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Technology projects receive student tech fee funded server equipment

NDSU’s Technology Fee Advisory Committee has allocated unused servers to three campus technology projects. The servers were originally purchased with student technology fee funds as part of the Commodities Trading Room project, but were ultimately not needed for the project’s successful completion.

The committee recently sought written requests to repurpose the five available servers. With approval from Marc Wallman, interim vice president for information technology, three technology projects received one or more of the servers.

The first is the “Photorealistic Rendering Service,” a project directed by Ben Bernard of the architecture and landscape architecture department. Students in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture frequently use Autodesk’s 3ds Max software to create visualizations of their design work. Such renderings can take days for a powerful workstation to complete. With two additional servers awarded by the committee, the department will create a render farm to enable students to produce high quality, photorealistic images and animations much more quickly. With the system in place, the processing work will be split between the servers, and rendering that would take a workstation 24 hours to process will be completed within an hour. 

The second project is “Expansion of Departmental OpenStack Infrastructure,” directed by Robert Foertsch of Computer Science and Operations Research. The Department of Computer Science aims to expand institutional knowledge of and experience with OpenStack, open source software for building massively scalable cloud operating systems. With the addition of two servers, the department will be able to maintain a stable, production-ready deployment of OpenStack. A testing environment will be built to test new versions of the software and conduct experiments on the best methods for deploying OpenStack. Ultimately, the project will produce complete documentation for use by the computer science department and other departments on how to build a multi-node OpenStack cluster.

The third project is “Remote Classroom Monitoring with Fusion RV,” directed by Micah McGowen of Information Technology Services. The Technical Support Services unit of NDSU’s Information Technology Services Department will use an additional server to run Crestron Fusion RV software, which will allow the group to remotely detect and resolve technical issues in instrumented classrooms across campus. Technical Support Services manage and support 108 instrumented classrooms across campus, most of which are outfitted with Crestron control panels. The Fusion RV software will enable Technical Support Services to monitor the status of Crestron classroom equipment, detect issues before they are realized by instructors or students, troubleshoot and resolve issues remotely to minimize disruption of the classroom environment. In addition, the software can be used to gather equipment usage statistics and to automate equipment shutdown after hours.

More information is available at www.ndsu.edu/tfac.

Questions regarding the Technology Fee Advisory Committee may be directed to the committee chair, Rian Nostrum, at rian.nostrum@ndsu.edu or 701-231-7890, or to the office of the Vice President for Information Technology at 701-231-5646.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. 


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North Dakota State University
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