Concordia University Tuesday unveiled an $85 million science facility that will take advantage of increased wireless capabilities throughout the school, officials said.

Rising five stories and housing departments including

biology, chemistry and bioscience, exercise science, and physics, the Loyola Science Complex covers 33,000 square metres. Corcordia began construction on the project two years ago to bring together its science and research departments, which had been scattered through two other buildings.

Earlier this year, Concordia replaced 34,000 analogue handsets with a voice-over-IP system based on Cisco products. Andrew McAusland, Concordia’s executive director of instructional information technology services, said the Loyola Science Complex will also be outfitted with wireless phones once the work is completed this week. This will provide improved technical support to teacher’s assistants and lab people, he said.

“”They used to need two or three extensions,”” he said. “”They had their office, they had labs, they have teaching facilities.””

McAusland said wireless is becoming much more critical among science departments, where users demand service wherever they are in the building, rather than at a fixed location.

“”We really had to focus on making sure the variety of departments that rely on huge communications links had what they needed,”” he said. “”If (professors) have to give a presentation, they sit down, open their laptop and bang! they can hook in to the classroom.””

Peter Bird, a professor in Concordia’s chemistry and biochemistry department, said he was still working in a room with wires dangling from the ceiling, but he will no doubt take advantage of the increased capabilities. Already, he said, he posts a lot of his presentations to the Internet, where students can access it wirelessly.

“”I don’t go around anymore with transparencies,”” he said. “”I just bring it up when I need it.””

Though Concordia has bandwidth caps, he said the school can adjust them based on the communications needs at any given time.

“”We just can’t open it up and offer them everything to the max,”” he said. “”That also creates problems for us in terms of maintenance, viruses and a host of other problems.””

Bird said the recent MSBlast attack has already made its mark. “”Things were complicated about a week or so ago with all the virus stuff flying around,”” he said. “”They were trying to bring up the voice-over-IP system, and I think there were problems that were inherent in the system, but they also had some problems that were being caused by the virus.””

McAusland said the complex’s auditorium will also be equipped with a multi-point videoconferencing system.

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