Pilot Program for Students Looks at Feasibility of Wireless Access for Rochester Area
Aug. 13, 2006
by Kelly Downs
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It looks like child’s play inside the Edgerton Community Center, but some Rochester City School students are tackling a project that may in the future lead to wireless Internet access for the entire community. The pilot program “Rochester Digital Ripple,” supported by Rochester Institute of Technology, is studying the feasibility of providing wireless Internet access for Rochester. “Over the course of the program, sponsored by the Rochester After School Academy, students in grades 7 through 12 will build a wireless network, link it to a DSL line, and then work crews will mount the wireless routers on light poles,” says Marge Lancer, Rochester After School Academy program manager for the City of Rochester.
The program uses wireless mesh technology to spread a free wireless network. Routers placed in waterproof cases can project an Internet signal for a 200-yard radius. The routers are positioned to communicate with each other and provide a constant Internet signal for the residents within the range of the entire mesh network.
The Lab for Technological Literacy within RIT’s Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure is supporting the pilot program. “Art for Everyone,” an organization comprised of local artists, teachers and IT professionals dedicated to bringing inspiring, cutting-edge educational programs to Rochester City School students, developed the comprehensive, multidisciplinary curriculum for the pilot program. Three RIT alumni—Robyn Neill, Eric Grace, and Keith Simmons—two of whom are currently teachers in the Rochester City School District and all members of “Art for Everyone”—are teaching the curriculum that involves math, science, art, technology and physical education.“It is our honor and privilege to contribute to innovation in our community by using art and technology to empower our youth and enhance the lives of Rochester residents,” says Robyn Neill, member of “Art for Everyone” and a Rochester City School District teacher.
“Professor Jon Schull and I have met with various corporations and organizations around the city for several years in an effort to facilitate activities downtown to launch a municipal wireless area network,” says Stephen Jacobs, director of the Lab for Technological Literacy at RIT. “Our efforts inspired ‘Art for Everyone’ to ask us for mentoring and support in creation of the Digital Ripple. This is just the first version of the program. The lab will have an ongoing role in partnering with ‘Art for Everyone’ to grow and replicate this program at a local, regional and national level.”