Seneca News

Newnham Computing Commons
Andrii Krot (left) shows the Freespace website he designed to Jason Cousins, Manager, Technical Support and Interactive Technology. Freespace shows students which computers are available at Newnham Computing Commons.

Dec. 12, 2017

Until recently, Nancy Hou could spend up to five minutes walking around the busy Computing Commons at Newnham Campus to find a free station.

Now, thanks to a new monitoring website called Freespace, students like Nancy can find a vacant station on the large display screens installed at either one of the Computing Commons entrances. The website is also accessible via the Seneca Mobile app.

“It’s a very useful tool,” says Nancy, a first-year Computer Engineering Technology student.

Newnham Computing Commons
Freespace display

Freespace is one of three initiatives Seneca’s Information Technology Services (ITS) have added after receiving feedback from students about their everyday use of the space. Plans are already in the works to have Freespace installed at other campuses as well.

Developed by Andrii Krot, a web developer from Ukraine and a second-year Electronics Engineering Technician student, Freespace maps out nearly 400 computers in the Commons to show each station’s availability.

“Being a student at Seneca gave me a better understanding of the project,” he says. “When I see students use the screen now, I feel happy that we did something useful.”

The Freespace map was designed by Da Woon Jeong, an Interactive Media Design graduate.

Extended hours, enhanced spaces

On average, 90 to 95 per cent of the work stations in the Newnham Computing Commons are in use at any one time. During exam time, it can be near impossible to find a computer.

Chris Park knows this better than anyone else. A third-year Civil Engineering Technology student, he’s at the Commons seven days a week, on average three to four hours a day during the week and eight hours a day on weekends.

He says the decision to keep the Newnham Computing Commons open 24/7 has been a big help.

“I don’t need to worry about when I can study. Some people study until late or very early in the morning.”

seneca students at Newnham Computing Common
Nancy Hou (left) and Troy Christian Garcia, both first-year Computer Engineering Technology students, work together at one of the three large collaborative workspaces installed at the Computing Commons.

Another addition to the Commons are collaborative spaces, which allows groups of students to work together, rather than gather around one computer.

ITS staff have added 15 small and three large workspaces with monitors and laptops, allowing students to work more efficiently together.

Eight Group Study Space rooms were also created to feature 55-inch displays and new furniture to accommodate those who want to bring their own devices.

Jason Cousins, Manager, Technical Support and Interactive Technology, says the latest round of improvements were aimed at making sure students receive the best quality service in the Computing Commons.

“We’ve listened to our students and made the improvements,” he says. “Freespace is truly innovative in its design and functionality. Likewise, the group study and collaborative workspaces allow students to work in an environment where they can share ideas, be supportive, creative and innovative.”

group study space room at newnham computing commons