Idea approved by BOT for technology building

By Cara Donfrio

Business students have Barsema Hall, art students have Jack Arends Hall and now computer science majors may have their own building as well.

Though no definite plans have been made yet, the Board of Trustees approved an idea to create a building on campus that would give computer science and technology students their own domain.

It still needs approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and state legislature, but the new structure would be called the Computer Science and Technology Center.

The idea has been met with much approval from students and Rodney Angotti, chair of the computer science department.

Angotti offered a history of the computer science department, which led to his reasons for being so excited about the new building.

“We started as a small part of the math department,” Angotti related. “We were given department status in 1982, and we’ve had constant discussions about space with the school.”

Angotti said that because of the limited space available to the computer science department, students are unable to minor in the field, a limited number of students can be accepted into the department and teacher-student interaction is not as good as it could be. Angotti believes that if the new center is built, many problems will be solved.

Ideas for the new center include computer labs that are larger than others on campus, areas where students can do research, the latest telecommunications equipment and intensive teacher-student interaction. Angotti added that the new building would allow NIU to give technology training to outside companies.

Students also have ideas of what they would like to see in the new center.

Steve Vaccaro, a freshman electrical engineering major, said he’d like to see the building include “study groups from specific sciences.”

Freshman undecided major Paul Semenov said he’d like a “place where you’d go and build something.”

Whether or not students will be enthusiastic about the new building may also depend on where it is located.

“If it was close,” Vaccaro said, “I’d be all for it.”

The would-be location of the building is undetermined, but there is a good chance that it would be near Barsema Hall and the Engineering Building. Angotti believes this is a good combination, because many students who would have classes at the center also would likely have classes at Barsema and the Engineering Building.

The estimated cost of constructing the building is more than $26 million, and that money would come from state funds, if approved by legislators in May of 2003.

Eddie Williams, executive vice president of finance and facilities, said that when the building would go up is very uncertain and would be based on how much of a priority the state believes the building is.

“We’re putting in our best arguments to try and get this funded today,” he said. “But it’s up to the state.”

Angotti was excited and hopeful about the center. Though he wasn’t sure when, if ever, it would be built, he stressed how much the new building is needed.

“The school has really helped us out since the 1960s,” he said. “But it’s 2002 now, and we’re maxed out.”

As for building the center, he concluded, “It’s inevitable. It has to happen.”