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The Exceptional Merit Grant: Computer Lab Upgrade

by Adam Jason,
Student Marketing and Communication Assistant,
The Ferris Foundation

Mary Holmes and student employees stand with rebuilt computers

This semester, students in the Computer Information Systems and Computer Information Technology program will notice a significant upgrade to the BUS 121 computer lab. Dr. Mary Holmes, an instructor in the program, has had a big hand in making that happen.

Holmes has been with Ferris State University for over 32 years. Her passion has always been teaching about computers and making them easier for students. She recognized that the equipment in these labs was becoming increasingly outdated, so she sought a solution.

Prior to this year, the BUS 121 computer lab was outfitted with out-of-date computers. To get by with what they had, the team started using parts from one computer to increase another computer's performance. "I have always been in IT," Holmes said, "One of the most significant issues we were having was that the classroom computers could not handle what we were doing."

To update the lab, extend the life of current computers, and make them more efficient, Holmes was awarded the Exceptional Merit Grant from The Ferris Foundation. This grant has allowed the installation of new NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives in the computer lab.

"The purpose of the drive is to save the virtual machine. With a regular hard drive, it has spinning parts and takes time," Holmes explains, "With this, it takes less time because there are no spinning parts. This is going to change my teaching and so much more."

Over the summer, Holmes enlisted two of her students, Gavin Kelly and Dakota Erdos, to help install the new drivers. "It was a great learning experience for them," she says, "Not only did they have the opportunity to install the hardware, but they also had the chance to use the software."

This award has made the time spent in the lab more efficient for both students and faculty. The drivers are also compatible with newer computers if there is another opportunity to upgrade further.

"It used to take a whole class period to wait for the machine to work on a project," says Holmes, "Now we can do them in 5 minutes."