Mega lab offers workshops, resources

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Biology freshman Shelby Gentry logs into the Mega Lab Feb. 1 on the fifth floor of Moody. The lab offers an open access computer lab and color printing. Service hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday. Lorena Torres Romero

The lab offers a range of resources for students.

Sergio Medina

For information technology Director Usha Venkat, it is important that students know the resources available in the Student Mega Lab in Moody Learning Center, which now includes software workshops.

“Whether they need technology support or not, they (students) can just come by and sit and do their homework,” Venkat said Jan. 25 in an interview.

The coordinator of the lab, client support specialist Michele Tippit, said the lab’s staff and work-studies are available to help students.

“It’s all about the student; we will help them,” Tippit said. “We’ll try to help them in whatever way we can without having them running all over campus.”

The lab offers workshops with overviews of Canvas learning management system and ACES.

This semester, the lab’s services were expanded to include workshops on how to use software, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

“We’re trying to get the word out,” Tippit said.

She is handing out the lab’s business cards and informing students about the workshops as they attend the lab.

The workshops are 45 to 50 minutes long, and it is Tippit’s aim that students feel comfortable with software by the time they are done with a workshop.

The workshop calendar is available on the Mega Lab’s page on this college’s website.

The lab can also accommodate workshops on software for groups of students and classes if given proper prior notice, Tippit said.

There is one dedicated training room that teachers can reserve for assignments.

“Teachers can bring their class over. We can do a workshop,” Tippit said.

Instructional technology supervisor Yvonne Galindo said, “The advantage of having separate rooms is that professors can reserve these classrooms for assignments. Students are not forbidden to come in because we can put them in one lab and that leaves the other labs open.”

The lab has 116 computers for students, including 23 Macs, 36 PCs and 57 Thin-Clients. Thin-Client is a generic technical term for VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). The VDI desktops do not have a hard-drive and operate from a central server that broadcasts a signal to any monitor connected to it.

Tippit sees advantages in having a variety of systems.

“If Thin-Clients go down, PCs would still be operational,” she said.

Venkat said five workstations are adapted for students with special needs.

The lab also offers scanning, faxing and printing services. For printing, students use GoPrint. Staff in the lab can assist students with creating GoPrint accounts.

Through their accounts, students can add credit with their credit or debit cards. Alternatively, students can also use cash by inserting bills into the lab’s cash machines.

“It’ll take money like a vending machine,” Tippit said.

Credit available on GoPrint can be used to print in any Alamo College, Tippit added.  

For black-and-white printing, the cost is 5 cents per page and 6 cents per double-sided sheet. For color printing, the cost is 40 cents per page and 35 cents per double-sided sheet.  

“The difference between the SLAC lab and our lab is that our lab is truly an open lab,” Venkat said.

“Our lab is such that you can be in there writing a paper; you can be in there working on your math software; you can be creating a PowerPoint for a speech class. When we say open, it’s open to any of the disciplines — whatever you’re working on,” Tippit said.

She said the lab averages 2,700 students a month.

As reported by The Ranger, last semester this college suffered a $4 million cut in its budget for fiscal year 2018, with every department’s budget cut by 25 percent.

Venkat said the cuts have not hindered the ability of the lab to operate.

The Student Mega Lab is in Room 502 of Moody Learning Center.

The lab is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday–Thursday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.

For information, call 210-486-0160.


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