Changing the face of higher education: HPE helps 3 institutions lead the way

May 31, 2024 | Phil Mottram, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Intelligent Edge (HPE Aruba Networking)
Blog Post

See how transforming the network is transforming the academic experience for these schools and their communities

In this article
  • Higher education institutions face some of the most demanding network challenges that exist, including bring your own device (BYOD), data privacy, and complex physical spaces
  • Institutions ranging from regional community colleges to large public research universities are pursuing digital transformation to support academic advancement
  • New Brunswick Community College, Doane University, and the University of Maryland are leveraging wired, wireless, and data center networking to deliver unique experiences to on-campus and remote students, faculty, researchers, and staff

As the summer approaches, IT leaders at universities across North America are all looking forward to the same thing: an empty campus.

Higher education institutions have one of the most demanding network environments and are constantly being challenged to upgrade and optimize their network to meet the demands of their constituents. And the day-to-day activity on their campus – and on their network – is much lighter in the summer than during the height of the school year, making it the perfect time for a network upgrade.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a public university, private institution, or community college, schools have to deliver exceptional connectivity for tens of thousands of mobile and IoT devices while reducing management burdens on lean higher-ed IT teams and working to future-proof the network in support of advanced technologies like AI and extended reality into their operations. 

Higher education institutions are undergoing digital transformations to deliver high-performance, always-on, secure connectivity that is streamlined, simplified, and unified

As a result, higher education institutions are undergoing digital transformations to deliver high-performance, always-on, secure connectivity that is streamlined, simplified, and unified.

We've recently worked with several institutions that are leading the way in using the latest in networking advances to design and install the network infrastructure they need to enhance the academic experience.

Taking classroom space wherever it needs to go

Although empowering its 10,000 on-campus students with hands-on educational experiences is critical, the larger mission of New Brunswick Community College  (NBCC) is bridging opportunity gaps to make generational improvements for its community members.

Recognizing that access to information is a crucial component of their mission, NBCC has adopted an innovative approach to delivering connectivity. In addition to outfitting its six physical campuses with Wi-Fi 6E and AI-powered management tools, NBCC also developed a Mobile Training Center (MTC) to reach individuals in underserved, remote, and First Nations areas. A flexible traveling educational facility, the custom-built MTC rapidly transforms from a semi-tractor trailer into 1,000 square feet of reconfigurable, course-specific classroom space.

Equipped with the same Wi-Fi and wired infrastructure as the NBCC campuses, the MTC supplies free connectivity to students and community members whenever it is in their area, while also supporting a cloud-first academic model that includes next-generation IoT and other technologies, such as Microsoft HoloLens.

By combining the MTC with its physical campuses, NBCC is closing the gap between distance and education as the institution can now reach students regardless of where they live, or what the weather is like during New Brunswick’s notoriously harsh winters.

Providing intimate, hyper-connected experiences

Focused on empowering students toward a commitment to leadership and service for more than 150 years, Doane University is now establishing the next wave of digital-first education, entertainment, and administration.

Although Doane’s hyper-connected vision starts with more traditional experiences, like tablets and laptops in the classroom, it also includes sports and hospitality-inspired abilities, such as waving a smartphone to lock or unlock a door, paying for food services, or managing the university’s HVAC system.

This is made possible by Doane’s recent network transformation that has them now deploying data center networking, wired edge networking, and Wi-Fi 6E technologies — all managed with HPE Aruba Networking AI-powered tools for management and automation. Doane is now supplying 10x the throughput to every building as before and easily handling escalating mobile and IoT device loads. The network is so stable that the institution has essentially eliminated downtime as a barrier to student success. This is allowing them to embrace cutting-edge learning opportunities such as online collaboration with other scholars and partnerships with companies in connectivity-intensive disciplines such as data science and robotics.

No matter what innovations or changes are on the horizon, Doane University’s network has positioned the institution to say “yes” to new initiatives that inspire and empower their students.

Supplying the tools for making a difference

The University of Maryland (UMD) has a longstanding commitment to providing its community with the tools and technologies needed to make an impact in the world. In today’s world, that means giving its students, faculty, and staff seamless and secure access to information and academic resources.

With more than 80,000 endpoints to securely authenticate and connect, UMD has deployed more than 19,000 Wi-Fi access points, including HPE Aruba Networking Wi-Fi 6E indoor APs, as well as intelligent wired networking solutions that deliver up to 25x more throughput than previous solutions. This gives more than 40,700 students and 14,000 faculty and staff the kind of networking power they need to support intensive research and analysis.

With this kind of breadth and complexity to their network, proactive infrastructure optimization is a must. By using AIOps for management and automation as well as user experience tools, UMD is able to achieve network performance and efficiency. For example, UMD’s AI-powered centralized management solution was able to use an outage in one location to uncover and identify a wider problem before users reported it and quickly remediate the defect at both facilities.

While UMD has created a powerful network infrastructure already, they are not stopping there. They are planning for high-performance Wi-Fi outdoors and expanding wireless connectivity into unconventional spaces, like mechanical rooms and rooftops, to utilize IoT sensors and mobile devices to make HVAC, lighting, and other building systems smarter.

Today, UMD offers smooth, seamless connectivity for any device brought onto campus. As a digital-first institution, this is important for supporting the students, faculty, and staff that help keep UMD at the forefront of academic excellence.

Higher education institutions face some of the most complex networking challenges there are and HPE Aruba Networking is committed to delivering the infrastructure, management, and performance they need

Ready for whatever comes next

As technology evolves and the connectivity needs of the higher education community shift, these universities are well-suited to handle whatever the future brings, with their modern wired, wireless, and data center networks. Higher education institutions face some of the most complex networking challenges there are and HPE Aruba Networking is committed to delivering the infrastructure, management, and performance they need.

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