Dell equipment donation boosts computer networking lab
September 7, 2017
To the untrained eye, they may not look like much — rows
upon rows of sleek-looking metal boxes stacked high inside another metal box in
a small room.
To the students in the computer networking and information
technology undergraduate program at University of Wisconsin-Stout, they represent
the future of computer storage, networking and servers.
That future arrived in early September when two Dell EMC
employees from Eden Prairie, Minn., installed about a dozen pieces of high-tech
equipment — new computer storage units with about 65 terabytes of space,
servers, fiber channel switches and ethernet switches in the CNIT lab in
Seniors in the CNIT capstone class began using the
cutting-edge equipment Friday, Sept. 8, the first day of class, just a week
after it was installed. It will help prepare them to enter the workforce for
high-demand jobs when they graduate in December and beyond.
“It’s such a great opportunity for students. We’re educating
the future workforce,” said Michelle Dingwall, a senior development officer
with Stout University Foundation, which helped coordinate the gift-in-kind from
Dell to the university.
The equipment, the latest made by Dell EMC, is valued at
about $540,000, a price that wouldn’t have fit into UW-Stout’s budget.
“This is the most cutting-edge, emerging technology,” said
Associate Professor Holly Yuan, CNIT program director. “Dell is really
interested in seeing the program develop and grow. We couldn’t ask for more
Chancellor Bob Meyer said the public-private partnership
with Dell EMC is the wave of the future for public universities like UW-Stout
during an era of tight state budgets.
“The generosity of Dell — and other companies — is very
important. It’s a partnership that’s working well. Students really need
state-of-the-art technology. It’s all about our students and the talent we put
out on the street. With cutting-edge labs and our extraordinary faculty, graduates
can plug right into the workforce,” Meyer said.
The CNIT program traditionally has had 100 percent
employment of its graduates within six months — part of UW-Stout’s overall 97.4
percent graduate employment rate. Starting salaries for CNIT graduates range
from $53,000 to $78,000.
Two of those recent CNIT graduates, Jake Medford, 2010, and
Steve Holm, 2011, were the Dell EMC employees installing the new equipment.
Their Dell facility in Eden Prairie employs about 40 UW-Stout graduates, they
Medford, originally from Osseo in west-central Wisconsin, is
a product engineer. Holm, a native of Shoreview, Minn., is a master engineer in
“This is enterprise-grade equipment. These devices are
prohibitively expensive for universities,” Holm said.
Dell’s support for the program goes even further. Dell
sponsors a capstone project for CNIT seniors, with employees providing a
lecture, mentoring and project feedback. Students also tour the Dell facility
in Eden Prairie.
This year, the capstone class will challenge students to
troubleshoot a disaster scenario, such as Hurricane Harvey. Medford and Holm
fielded calls recently from companies in Houston that faced emergency
situations as the waters rose because they didn’t have their system’s files
“The capstone project is about life lessons. We work in
support. We see (computer) disasters,” Holm said.
part of Dell Technologies, “provides the foundation to help modernize, automate
and transform your data center with industry-leading servers, storage, cloud
computing solutions, and converged infrastructure technology,” according to its
Along with the CNIT program,
UW-Stout offers an undergraduate program in information and communication technologies and a master's.
EMC employee Jake Medford, a UW-Stout alumnus, installs new equipment from the
company at a UW-Stout lab for computer networking students.
EMC donated about $540,000 worth of equipment to UW-Stout.
left, Provost Patrick Guilfoile, Dell EMC employees and UW-Stout alumni Jake
Medford and Steve Holm and Chancellor Bob Meyer talk about the new equipment.