A first-time partnership between Miami University and a regional school collaborative is now bringing used — but still valuable — wireless routers to some Butler County classrooms at no cost.
A recent joining between Miami University and the Southwest Ohio Computer Association, which serves area K-12 schools, will soon see the installation of tens of thousands of dollars or wireless routers in local participating schools, said Miami officials.
Both Miami and SWOCA officials are also working together on another, non-school project for Butler County to deliver high-speed digital service to underserved communities in the area.
Miami had recently embarked on changing out and upgrading digital equipment and wireless access points (APs) also known as wireless routers in its student residence halls.
Typically that equipment would be recycled, said Miami officials, but now the tech is headed to some SWOCA area school districts.
“So far, our team has already reconditioned and deployed APs to Edgewood and Fairfield (Schools), replacing even older equipment which’s software could no longer be upgraded. Still planned for this summer are deployments for Butler County Educational Services Center (BCESC) and Madison Schools,” said Marc Hopkins, SWOCA’s chief technology officer.
“There’s another element here … this partnership is also contributing to the IT education of several area high school students: Through another partnership with InterAlliance and the State of Ohio, our staff is leading a team of five high school interns (from Lakota, Mason and Fairfield) to do the work of reconditioning, upgrading, and in some cases, installing these Aps,” said Hopkins.
The donation couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Hopkins.
“Many of our schools had outdated equipment that was well past its scheduled life,” Hopkins said. “When our students return to class in the fall, they will see faster Wi-Fi coverage in the classroom, and our members will have a more secure wireless network.”
SWOCA provides IT support and services to schools and municipalities across seven counties in the southwest Ohio region totaling more than 140,000 students. Participating schools were having difficulty financially and logistically with keeping their classroom digital systems current and some were no longer receiving much needed security updates from their wireless system manufacturers.
David Seidl, Miami’s vice president for IT services and chief information officer, noted that the university emphasizes partnerships not only across the institution but in the region as well. Seidl pointed to both this recent collaboration with SWOCA, as well as the university’s work with Butler County as examples of Miami’s positive impact in southwest Ohio.
“We know the challenges these school districts face,” Seidl said. “This makes a difference.”