As a continually growing school, Utah Valley State College (UVSC) looked to create a state-of-the-art network to accommodate the school’s remarkable growth and vision for the future. It turned to Graybar to help it plan for and implement what will be one of the region’s premier infrastructures. UVSC also looked toward one of the area’s trusted contractors that it was accustomed to working with to further ensure the school’s desires were translated to reality.

Located south of Salt Lake City and launched initially as a trade school during World War II, UVSC is the state’s fastest growing college, with a trade and academic student population that has increased by almost 90 percent over the past two decades to more than 25,000 students.

The technology upgrade, which will enable the convergence of voice, data, CATV and audiovisual, began as part of UVSC’s mission to elevate its stature from state college to university by mid-2008. A key government requirement for the change involved dramatic expansion of the college’s library from 35,000 to 190,000 square feet and the creation of a new Digital Learning Center as part of the project. Integral to the expansion is a new data center, along with rewired classrooms, study rooms and labs that will provide best-in-class technology capabilities. The new Digital Learning Center will house all of these.

At the heart of the technology upgrade is an augmented Category 6 structured cabling system operating between desktops and servers that will enable a 20–30 percent growth in volume capabilities at speeds 10 times faster than the current network infrastructure allows. The enhanced capacity is pivotal to realizing the school’s vision. UVSC President Bill Sederburg supported the school’s technology expansion as a major component of the long-range plan to be a premier learning institution. With this plan in focus, the college’s technology team went to work with Graybar and its suppliers to take a broad view of how a network solution could help the institution achieve its goals. Out of this process came a set of master specs, which during the preplanning process were developed at above-industry standards to help future-proof the network infrastructure.

Building around Moore’s Law

"We looked at the phenomenon known as Moore’s Law, which observes that the pace of change in technology doubles in less than two years,” said Tom Branam, UVSC Director of Telephony. “Graybar and its suppliers have been with us every step of the way in creating an environment that can and will easily accommodate the pace of change in years to come.”

Branam noted that the network also will be used to monitor and control fire, alarm and HVAC systems. Branam saw the recent introduction of 10 gigabit over copper as a perfect fit to meet the school’s proposed and future bandwidth needs. Mohawk’s GigaLAN 10 copper product was selected based on 10G BASE-T (10 Gigabit Ethernet) applications over a full 100-meter channel and provides 750 MHz confirmed stability. Mohawk recently redesigned GigaLAN 10, reducing its diameter from 0.320 in. OD to 0.295 in. OD to make it among the smallest overall diameter Cat 6A cables available on the market today. The reduced OD addresses pathway and space concerns by allowing a greater number of cables into conduit and cable trays in addition to an improved bend radius, creating an easier installation solution for closets and work station outlets.

The new program means that every classroom in the college’s unique mall-like campus—where all buildings are connected by covered hallways—will accommodate wired and wireless laptops, TV on large screens, and smart podiums that enable teachers to control a range of audiovisual needs without equipment.

A beacon for the region

In addition to its growing status as one of the area’s leading colleges, UVSC also has earned a reputation among regional business and academic leaders as a breeding ground for technological innovation. Together, UVSC and Graybar hold seminars on networking technology that draw practitioners and thought leaders from throughout the region.

Completion of UVSC’s expanded library and Digital Learning Center will coincide with the July 1, 2008, date when the school becomes Utah Valley University.

Support and funding from the Utah State Legislature has been fundamental to the project, Branam said.

“It is always a tough sell to ask government to look beyond the immediate term and support technology that will have its payout over time,” Branam said. “The forward-looking leadership of the school made a compelling case to legislators that will reap incredible rewards for the state’s students and businesses for decades to come.”

Cache Valley’s influence and perspective

Just as instrumental to the project as the government, prime contractors and suppliers, was the inclusion of Cache Valley Electric (CVE). The selection of both Graybar and contractor Cache Valley Electric Co. was a natural for UVSC because both entities have a strong reputation for their associated education work in the region as well as a long-standing and valued relationship with UVSC. Adding to the levels of expertise for the project, both Siemon and Mohawk were selected as key suppliers on the project, as well. Cache Valley, in their voice and data contracting role, continues to work closely with Graybar, as the two have joined forces to provide a comprehensive solution.

Graybar project lead Brian Maynes noted that education and teamwork between the college, contractor and distributor were critical to getting a state-of-the-art infrastructure in place.

“One of Graybar’s key roles in the project was to help the college see the tremendous value of investing in an augmented Category 6 system with a remarkably long life cycle,” Maynes said. Through this consulting process, UVSC was able to fully understand the long-term financial advantages of using this technology.

According to Tim Hadden, CVE’s Project Manager, “We first started talking about this project three years ago. We told the college that they needed to put in the best infrastructure that they could. This is also because, when you are dealing with government, funding it is much harder to go back later and ask to have something re-done. It is easier to do it up front.”

In fact, Cache Valley was so forward thinking and proactive that when these discussions first began, 10G was not even on the market yet; though, the firm was well aware of the fact that it would be when the time came to do the project. While Cache Valley was a sub under the general contractor, they still remained in constant communication with the design team at the school to ensure that their vision and desires were being accurately translated into the building documents.

According to Hadden, one of the other reasons the Digital Learning Center needed to be so complete and future-proofed was the fact that the building will eventually serve as the technological center of the entire campus.

“Eventually everything will distribute to the entire campus from there, from that one building,” Hadden said. “It will house the network that serves everything. This will be the State of Utah’s first major sized Cat 6A install and a huge deal in the region.”

This fact helps explain why contractors like Cache Valley continue to be leaders in the industry. CVE is on the cutting edge, helping fuel the continual technology boom and educating customers on the technology even years before anyone else and before the products are on the market. That is taking forward thinking to a new level.

This project helps serve as an example of how contractors can be instrumental in getting projects transitioned from concept to reality. The coordination between the school, the contractors and the suppliers was perhaps the most relevant catalyst in bringing a new technology to a traditional customer.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.