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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication

Jan. 26, 2001 -- No. 41

Carolina to demonstrate how wireless technology supports historic freshman laptop requirement

Media Demonstration

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m.

223 Greenlaw Hall, Café Trio

UNC-CH and Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will demonstrate how its deployment of wireless network technology works -- both in the classroom and across part of nearby Franklin Street to downtown businesses – for the news media Tuesday (Jan. 30).

UNC is using wireless technology – which provides access to the Internet, e-mail and the central campus network – to support the Carolina Computing Initiative, which includes a new laptop requirement for incoming freshman that began last fall. Students who have laptops equipped with wireless adapter cards can log on to the Internet or access their e-mail from classrooms, libraries, laboratories and, in a new development, even a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant on one section of Franklin Street. Students in some classes like English receive cards purchased by the department for use during class time. They can also buy them at student stores or check out laptops with the cards for use in the library.

Participants will include Chancellor James Moeser, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Marian Moore, Dr. Todd Taylor, assistant professor of English, and Barry Gafner, vice president for the Atlantic region for Cisco Systems Inc. Moeser, an avid wireless user, will discuss how this technology is transforming learning at Carolina. Moore will explain why Carolina is using wireless technology and how it is being installed. Taylor will outline how the English department has incorporated wireless access into freshman writing courses. Gafner also will be available to discuss the Cisco perspective. UNC is using newly announced Cisco equipment in wireless network applications and has been a Cisco test site.


10 a.m. Attendees should meet Karen Moon, News Services, at 223 Greenlaw Hall.

10:15 a.m. Chancellor James Moeser, Marian Moore, Todd Taylor will brief reporters and answer questions. Barry Gafner also will be available.

10:25-10:45 a.m. Photographers and reporters can go to 302 Greenlaw to see a freshman English

composition class that uses the wireless adapter cards and laptops. (Note: The classroom is small and space is limited, so media representatives will enter the class in small groups to shoot video, take pictures or watch.)

10:45-11:55 a.m. Board a mini-bus in the parking lot behind Wilson Library to go to Café Trio on Franklin Street, one of several downtown businesses where UNC’s wireless Network is connected. Students using wireless technology will be on hand. Moore also can demonstrate the reach of the wireless network up and down a portion of Franklin Street near Café Trio and the Old Chapel Hill Post Office.

11:00-11:30 Media may board the mini-bus back to the library parking lot.

Background on wireless and the laptop requirement:

This spring semester, about 225 freshmen English students equipped with laptops, battery power and wireless adapter cards are connecting to the Internet in their Greenlaw Hall classrooms to conduct research, evaluate information for writing assignments and share drafts of papers. They also can split up for work in pairs or small groups without their instructor having to worry about the location of wall plugs or wires as well as phone lines or modem connections.

Greenlaw is among 40 key sites where Carolina’s Academic Technology Networks division has deployed wireless access points as the nation’s largest freshman class ever required to own laptop computers is halfway through an historic academic year as part of the Carolina Computing Initiative, a technology plan to enhance teaching, learning and research and to equip students and faculty with computers.

The access points, which are book-sized hubs that plug into the central campus network, can zap data at high speeds through walls, ceilings and across parts of campus. UNC, the nation’s first public university, is using wireless to supplement the central network and traditional wiring infrastructure as well as to maximize its technology funding and resources. Moore says Carolina is perfectly positioned to benefit from the strategic use of wireless in classrooms and other sites where increasingly mobile students study and work because of the laptop requirement, which will touch 15,000-plus undergraduates by fall 2003.

By making technology now essential in academic life, Carolina aims to produce graduates who have the high-tech savvy required for professional success in the 21st century. While some campuses have a range of computer requirements, UNC’s is unique among major U.S. research universities because of its size, scope and approach, which includes providing about 1,000 laptops to this year’s freshmen class as part of a need-based grant program.

Parking: Greenlaw Hall is located directly across from the Robert B. House Undergraduate Library. Parking will be available for media representatives in the lot behind Wilson Library off South Road. Broadcasters with heavy equipment who need special help should call Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595

Web links: (Carolina Computing Initiative)

Contacts: Karen Moon (broadcast) (919) 962-8595, Mike McFarland (print) (919) 962-8593