A $2.7 million grant award from the Connecting Minorities Communities Pilot Program, an initiative of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will be used across all four Sul Ross State University campuses in Alpine, Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Uvalde to improve distance communications.
SRSU campuses rely on technology to educate distance learners, especially on Rio Grande College campuses. Most of the grant funds will go directly to upgrading existing equipment, including 16 distance learning classrooms, teaching labs, 12 Smart classrooms, auditoriums and conference rooms. On the Alpine campus, funds will upgrade networking capabilities and five classrooms used for distance education. In addition, laptops will be made available to students who demonstrate need and have no access to such equipment off campus.
“The NTIA grant will allow Sul Ross State University to accomplish three goals, all of which will improve the availability and integrity of the technology resources most frequently utilized by our students,” said Chief Information Officer Jacob Fuentes. “First, significant networking and technology infrastructure improvements will be performed on our main campus. Then, distance education and learning technology across all campus locations will be upgraded. Finally, we will begin a pilot program to distribute laptops to students who demonstrate the need and otherwise lack access to technology when off campus. Collaboratively, members of our faculty and staff have worked together to prepare, submit, and now receive this grant. It is an exciting opportunity that will leverage technology resources to serve our students.”
The improvements will address the need to keep up with rapidly changing technology, providing enhanced connectivity for distance learning students. In addition, all SRSU campuses rely on technology to work with colleagues across its campuses and the upgrades will boost efficiency and productivity. The work will take place over a three-year period and major projects will be tackled during summer months to limit classroom disruption.
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