With midterms soon approaching, students are studying, professors are grading and campus life is buzzing with theater performances, club meetings and more. The new Bonnie J. Ford Health, Nursing & Science Center is also now in semi-full action providing students with new technology and classroom space.

Nursing and Dental students are now able to have more hands-on training and real-life experiences in simulation labs whereas in previous years students had to travel off-campus. “It’s definitely been positive. It didn’t take long to orient myself to any of the classrooms,” said nursing student Michael O’Sullivan. “In that building we get to study what we’re going to go into without putting someone else at risk,” O’Sullivan said.

cell phone range test
Cell phone reception falls short inside Health Nursing & Science Center
Photo provided by Vladimir Sovyak /The Mainstream

The building also features new technology for Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Physics classes, including multiple labs and classrooms. Science students can now utilize updated technology allowing better education.

While the building brings forth many beneficial, advanced technologies, several complications concern students.

Poor cell phone service in the building has hindered some activities. Students using AT&T, U.S. Cellular, Sprint and Straight Talk get one or no bars of service inside. Verizon Wireless, however, hovers around two bars.

“Primarily just for emergencies or something, not being able to have your phone, just in case something happens, isn’t really nice,” said nursing student Emily Roy.

Construction materials led to the problem. “The concrete floors were built to be light which to be able to do that means that they have a type of metal mesh inside. All of that metal acts like a faraday cage which tends to block electronic signals,” said Dan Yoder, Director I.T. Department.

Jacoby Auditorium also interferes with this HN&S Center cell signal due to a mixture of rock sheet and metal reap bar in its construction.

In order to fix this problem, Yoder and his department are currently looking into mitigation systems to boost cell reception. However, many factors can influence the specific type of system needed such as the amount of square footage to be covered. “We’re working through determining which is the proper one to order,” said Yoder.

An obstacle preventing the purchase of these systems involves their cost. “Mitigation systems cost between $5,000 and $6,000, and we’re looking at two of them. One for each floor and we don’t have a budget for it,” Yoder said.

As the procedure for solving the lack of cell reception continues, landline telephones are currently in the process of being installed in each of the classrooms if they haven’t already. The installation of these phones was set back due to a switch to Douglas Fast Net that resulted in technological upsets. “There’s always unforeseen consequences when you switch one very complicated system for another very complicated system and that has caused us issues with fax lines and other devices that we’re still working out,” Yoder said.

Revised Oct. 26, 2016- spelling error.

An inside look at one of the new science classrooms.
Photo provided by Kaya Maliglig/The Mainstream