Faces of Cooper: Jameel Ahmad

Caroline Yu (EE ’15)

The Cooper Pioneer: Where are you originally from?

Jameel Ahmad: I was born in Pakistan but I came here when I was still in my teens.

TCP: Can you tell me about your educational and professional background?

JA: I went to the University of Hawaii first and got a Masters there and then I got a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Then, I taught at a couple of places first then came to Cooper. I’ve been here ever since!

TCP: Why did you choose civil engineering? What is your favorite field within civil engineering?

JA: Since I was born in a developing country, there was a need for water supply and infrastructure and roads. So I was attracted to that. I liked science and math – those were my favorite subjects. Engineering is a natural profession grounded in science and math. It also is an applied profession so this is the reason I went into civil engineering. And then I found out that the civil engineering field is really broad. You can do a lot of things. For example, you can work in structural engineering or you can design transportation systems or waste-disposal systems. You don’t really feel like you’re confined to one field.

I’m a structural engineer. One interesting area that appealed to me was the generation of power from flowing water – hydroelectricity. I had an interest in building dams. Lately, we don’t build dams so now we have kinetic hydro-power which means how to extract energy from flowing water. I have a patent for a new technology which I got in 2008.

The real world isn’t disciplinary. It’s quite multidisciplinary. Disciplines are the way fields are organized but not how the problems are solved. The difference is that when you get involved in a real project – it really doesn’t really go by discipline. For example, in any of the engineering projects, permitting requirements, financing issues, return investments, and ethical issues are also involved. I think not all of those we learn while we’re in school because we only have a small amount of time – four years for an undergraduate degree but it’s sort of amazing to work with very many different people. A lot of different professional people involved. As a structural engineer, I work with architects a lot. This is the nature of how design is done. You also deal with owners, contractors, labor forces, unions contracts, how to procure materials, [and] environmental issues. So, it’s a large team effort and engineers work on very large projects! This skill that one has to develop is how to network with other professionals, how to communicate, [and] how to outreach the community. Our projects have a very large impact on the community. We need to get the community involved very early on in the project.

TCP: What is your role in Cooper? What is your department’s role in Cooper?

JA: I’m a professor in the Civil Engineering department. I’m the chairman of the department also. The engineering school is basically divided into four degree departments with separate faculty in each department. There is interaction with other departments – including the school of architecture. We are trying to develop that collaboration. Next year we plan to offer a lab course which will be available to the engineers and the architects. This will basically be a course on the testing of building materials – it’ll be done in our structures and material lab in the CE department.

TCP: Do you have a favorite professor or colleague at Cooper?

JA: Well, I have a very big respect for the Cooper faculty. You have to be a good teacher and a very knowledge person to be able to teach here because our students are very gifted students and they don’t really need to be spoon fed. You realize that very early on. It’s a challenge to teach here. It’s never really dull because the students are always very mature into the field and their high level of interest and you have to keep them motivated and keep yourself motivated. I don’t one or two favorites – almost every faculty member in the engineering school know their field. In my own department, I have very experienced faculty members that have been here for decades. You can learn from them and collaborate with them. Some of the young faculty are very impressive. I see them and they are working with a different technological world. Twenty to thirty years ago we didn’t have the technology we have today. The instruction has changed a lot. The students have changed a lot! You have to keep up to date on your knowledge.

I attended a lecture just last night, which was about the tallest building world which is being designed in Saudi Arabia – Kingdom Tower. 1000 meters high. The kind of challenges they were talking about were incredible. If you interact with the faculty, you can learn a lot. If you find out what they’re doing – it always amazes me. They’re doing great things!

TCP: What are some of your hobbies?

JA: I like to travel. I also like food. I cook. I also like to read – not necessarily about engineering. I was recently in Paris and it was such an interesting experience because it has such a rich history. It has tremendous food.

TCP: What advice would you give to Cooper students?

JA: I believe that each generation meets their own challenges. Just like when I was a young engineer, I saw the challenges – the space program that was just getting underway. Even the mainframe computers weren’t invented yet! We prepared and couldn’t really seek advice. I worked for the space program as a graduate student the University of Pennsylvania. This
project was to put a man on the moon – this was started under President Kennedy. There was no blueprint to do that! We were very young and when we were working on this program they would discourage us to seek guidance from senior people. And we said, “What do you mean?!” He said because they will tell you, you can’t do it – there are so many unknowns.

My advice is to have new challenges. You should look at those challenges from the prism of your own self: “I would like to solve this problem and invent something new.” You need a lot of knowledge based on experience but that experience is based in prior history but it’s not based on the future. My hope is that students will be prepared to address those challenges that might not have addressed in a course or lecture. You have to prepare yourself for the future. I got my undergraduate degree exactly 50 years ago. The amazing thing is that I’m still working in this field. One of the things I keep in mind when I’m teaching students is that they might be active in their profession for 60-70 years! The best thing we can hope to do is to make sure students learn how to teach themselves and develop a mind set. To have confidence in your ability and to give everything their best shot. They have to build their own world – it’s a very exciting world!

TCP: Why did you choose civil engineering? What is your favorite field within civil engineering?

JA: Since I was born in a developing country, there was a need for water supply and infrastructure and roads. So I was attracted to that. I liked science and math – those were my favorite subjects. Engineering is a natural profession grounded in science and math. It also is an applied profession so this is the reason I went into civil engineering. And then I found out that the civil engineering field is really broad. You can do a lot of things. For example, you can work in structural engineering or you can design transportation systems or waste-disposal systems. You don’t really feel like you’re confined to one field.

I’m a structural engineer. One interesting area that appealed to me was the generation of power from flowing water – hydroelectricity. I had an interest in building dams. Lately, we don’t build dams so now we have kinetic hydro-power which means how to extract energy from flowing water. I have a patent for a new technology which I got in 2008.

The real world isn’t disciplinary. It’s quite multidisciplinary. Disciplines are the way fields are organized but not how the problems are solved. The difference is that when you get involved in a real project – it really doesn’t really go by discipline. For example, in any of the engineering projects, permitting requirements, financing issues, return investments, and ethical issues are also involved. I think not all of those we learn while we’re in school because we only have a small amount of time – four years for an undergraduate degree but it’s sort of amazing to work with very many different people. A lot of different professional people involved. As a structural engineer, I work with architects a lot. This is the nature of how design is done. You also deal with owners, contractors, labor forces, unions contracts, how to procure materials, [and] environmental issues. So, it’s a large team effort and engineers work on very large projects! This skill that one has to develop is how to network with other professionals, how to communicate, [and] how to outreach the community. Our projects have a very large impact on the community. We need to get the community involved very early on in the project.

TCP: What is your role in Cooper? What is your department’s role in Cooper?

JA: I’m a professor in the Civil Engineering department. I’m the chairman of the department also. The engineering school is basically divided into four degree departments with separate faculty in each department. There is interaction with other departments – including the school of architecture. We are trying to develop that collaboration. Next year we plan to offer a lab course which will be available to the engineers and the architects. This will basically be a course on the testing of building materials – it’ll be done in our structures and material lab in the CE department.

TCP: Do you have a favorite professor or colleague at Cooper?

JA: Well, I have a very big respect for the Cooper faculty. You have to be a good teacher and a very knowledge person to be able to teach here because our students are very gifted students and they don’t really need to be spoon fed. You realize that very early on. It’s a challenge to teach here. It’s never really dull because the students are always very mature into the field and their high level of interest and you have to keep them motivated and keep yourself motivated. I don’t one or two favorites – almost every faculty member in the engineering school know their field. In my own department, I have very experienced faculty members that have been here for decades. You can learn from them and collaborate with them. Some of the young faculty are very impressive. I see them and they are working with a different technological world. Twenty to thirty years ago we didn’t have the technology we have today. The instruction has changed a lot. The students have changed a lot! You have to keep up to date on your knowledge.

I attended a lecture just last night, which was about the tallest building world which is being designed in Saudi Arabia – Kingdom Tower. 1000 meters high. The kind of challenges they were talking about were incredible. If you interact with the faculty, you can learn a lot. If you find out what they’re doing – it always amazes me. They’re doing great things!

TCP: What are some of your hobbies?

JA: I like to travel. I also like food. I cook. I also like to read – not necessarily about engineering. I was recently in Paris and it was such an interesting experience because it has such a rich history. It has tremendous food.

TCP: What advice would you give to Cooper students?

JA: I believe that each generation meets their own challenges. Just like when I was a young engineer, I saw the challenges – the space program that was just getting underway. Even the mainframe computers weren’t invented yet! We prepared and couldn’t really seek advice. I worked for the space program as a graduate student the University of Pennsylvania. This
project was to put a man on the moon – this was started under President Kennedy. There was no blueprint to do that! We were very young and when we were working on this program they would discourage us to seek guidance from senior people. And we said, “What do you mean?!” He said because they will tell you, you can’t do it – there are so many unknowns.

My advice is to have new challenges. You should look at those challenges from the prism of your own self: “I would like to solve this problem and invent something new.” You need a lot of knowledge based on experience but that experience is based in prior history but it’s not based on the future. My hope is that students will be prepared to address those challenges that might not have addressed in a course or lecture. You have to prepare yourself for the future. I got my undergraduate degree exactly 50 years ago. The amazing thing is that I’m still working in this field. One of the things I keep in mind when I’m teaching students is that they might be active in their profession for 60-70 years! The best thing we can hope to do is to make sure students learn how to teach themselves and develop a mind set. To have confidence in your ability and to give everything their best shot. They have to build their own world – it’s a very exciting world!

Stock to Replace Brazinsky as ChE Chair

Marcus Michelen (BSE ‘14)

For the past couple of weeks, there have been rumors circulating that Professor Stock had replaced Professor Brazinsky as Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. Last week, I sat down with Professor Stock to find out what happened. Reproduced below is an exerpt from what Professor Stock said during the interview:

Professor Stock: Basically there was a faculty meeting early February. I made a case for why I thought it was my time, and I was elected [chair of the Chemical Engineering Department]. Part of [the reason I wanted to run], is that I’m not planning to be one of those professors at Cooper Union who basically stays here until they drop dead.

So it would be nice to spend a couple of cycles being chair of the department before I start thinking about retiring. So that was partly my motivation and partly because I think it would be a cool thing to do.

Professor Brazinsky is still chair, and will be chair until September 1st. Quite often at Cooper, changes in chair happen when chairs retire. So, to a certain extent, I kind of consider myself pretty lucky because Professor Brazinsky isn’t retiring yet so that’s going to be very useful because there’s always someone I can talk to who knows what the deal is. He’s going to have the chance to get back to some of his teaching, which he enjoys.

I’m not expecting any earthquake type changes or anything. The departments in Cooper run a little bit differently. Each one has its own kind of character. Ours kind of runs like a committee. People have their own particular view on things.

Sometimes the meetings can be passionate, to say the least. There are things that some people want to do and others want to do differently. We always manage to thrash it out and come up with changes and improvements in what we hope is a kind of thoughtful way.

NASA’s Don Thomas Visits Cooper

Caroline Yu (EE ‘15)

Sunrise and sunset are two of the most breathtaking things on Earth. Imagine seeing the sun rise and sun set 16 times a day from an orbiting space shuttle. This is just one of the many experiences Dr. Don Thomas, former NASA astronaut, shared during his talk in the Great Hall.

After graduating with honors from the Case Western University with a degree in physics, Dr. Thomas received a masters and doctorate degree in Materials Science from Cornell University. These education degrees were pursued in hopes of becoming an astronaut, which Dr. Thomas was set on becoming since the age of six after seeing the first human be set off into space.

Dr. Thomas emphasized how important it is to work hard and do everything possible to achieve life dreams. The first time Dr. Thomas was not accepted into the space program he received an impersonal postcard in the mail and decided to look at what skills the people who were accepted had – even if those skills were not necessarily required.

After learning how to fly a small plane and skydive and even being interviewed by NASA and having family and friends background checked the third time he applied to the program, Dr. Thomas was still not accepted. Everyone has doubts from time to time, but it was clear that Dr. Thomas had no intention of giving up on his goal. In 1990, Dr. Thomas was hired by NASA and went on to serve as a communicator, direction of operations, mission specialist, program scientist at different times for NASA and go on four space missions.

When asked why there is a need to send people to space, Dr. Thomas answered by saying that humans explore: “This is what humans do.” He compared space exploration to pioneers who explored the land west of the Mississippi – at the time “it was risky to travel in a canvas-covered wagon.” Dr. Thomas also described the distinction between a picture of Neil Armstrong on the moon compared to a picture of just the Moon’s landscape. To him, it was the simple fact that humankind is able to get a human to the Moon that makes all the difference.

I asked Dr. Thomas of what he does when he is sharing his experiences with someone not necessarily interested in space missions:

“For the people not interested in science and exploration I try to emphasize the personal and human aspects of flying in space. I think the more personal you can make it the better chance you have of connecting with them. So I try to share my experiences in terms of imaging what it is like for that human being to be in that location (on the moon, on the way to Mars, on the ISS, etc).

“The key to scientists and engineers explaining the significance of their work to other individuals is to keep it in very simple terms and try to relate it to something in everyday life. Look for connections as to why the work or results are important or might be important in the lives of others. I always recommended that everyone should be able to describe their research and explain it to someone like your mom or dad at home. The minute you start talking over their heads, you lose them.”

But, there are many of us at Cooper who could listen to space mission stories all day. For more, read Professor Hopkins’s article in a national amateur radio magazine about how Dr. Thomas has been an inspiration to him as well at https://engfac.cooper.edu/pages/bob/uploads/9_Minute_QSO_Feb1.pdf

Dr. Thomas described his incredible experiences orbiting the Earth but the way in which he related our lives on Earth and the entire mission of his experience was truly inspiring. Personally, my favorite stories Dr. Thomas shared were how important it was to build up and maintain muscle mass and bone density in preparation of the flight as well as during the flight.

He described how one of the astronauts wrapped her feet around a pole to stop herself from moving backwards in a zero-gravity environment while she typed on a computer (this would happen due to Newton’s 3rd Law of motion), and how good it felt to eat refrigerated and non-powdered food on Earth after each mission.

With so many astonishing images of Earth from space, Dr. Thomas found the ones that demonstrated the impact of humans on Earth: “There are so many pictures of the Earth that stand out in my mind. I think seeing the entire continent of South America under a smoke pall from the deforestation and burning of the rainforest really made an impression on me, as did seeing the border between Israel and Egypt in the Gaza Strip. Both examples illustrate the impact that humans are having on the planet that is visible from 200 miles up.”

In addition to these pictures, it was incredible to see the pictures of Earth’s beautiful natural locations: the difference between desert and fertile land at the Nile River’s delta and the Himalayan mountain range where Mt. Everest was surrounded by mountains that looked quite similar.

It was hilarious when Dr. Thomas showed a picture of the top of Mt. Everest and joked how he saw the top of the tallest mountain on Earth “the lazy way.”

Traveling at five miles per second or conducting 80 experiments during a 15-day space mission is mindboggling, but Dr. Thomas’s stories and advice are what inspired me to never give up on what I hope to accomplish and always take great stride in human advancement and achievement.

Cooper GLASS’s First Drag Race

Josephina Taylor Conquistadora (EE ‘15)

On Thursday, March 29, Cooper Union’s GLASS (Gay Lesbian and Straight Spectrum) club held a drag race in the Rose auditorium, and we ain’t talkin’ bout no cars Miss Thing.

The anticipation was mounting as the minutes ticked by. Hercules and Love Affair played through the speakers of the Rose Auditorium, failing to satiate the appetite of an audience that filled nearly half of the space.

A picture of RuPaul, drag queen extraordinaire, shined on the projector and smiled upon the artists and engineers waiting for the show to begin. The music stopped, and the audience began to shift, itchy. It was supposed to start at eight, right?

A petite Asian girl came on to the stage and clumsily made her way to the podium, wearing a form fitting grey dress, black leggings, heels, and a blonde bob with fierce bangs. The audience erupted into applause, some stamping, some brought nearly to tears with laughter.
The girl flipped her hair, put a hand on her hip, and introduced herself: “Hi everybody, my name is Lulu Lemon, and welcome to Cooper Union’s first ever Drag Race!”

Emcee Lulu Lemon, four drag queens and one drag king, all sickening, left an audience that filled half the Rose Auditorium gagging on their eleganza. Lulu Lemon, Rosie, Erika, Benedick O. Steele, and Harry Vagina stomped the stage, kicking off the drag race with a runway walk to RuPaul’s “Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk).”

Events of the night included a literal race around the Rose Auditorium, a lipsync to Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe,” a group twerk to Azealia Banks’s “212”, and a pole dance. There were more than a few standout moments: Erika, serving up middle aged Asian mama realness, conquered the lap dance competition, leaving Benedick O. Steele covered in lipstick; Rosie’s flawless harassment of the audience, complete with winding and grinding on the mainstage; Benedick O. Steele giving all the queens a turn.

Most impressive, was Harry Vagina’s multiple surprise wardrobe changes, transforming her outfit from red carpet couture to daytime drag to Kinbaku swimsuit fierceness.

After all was said and done, the audience voted Harry Vagina as the winner, who won an Amazon gift card. The night was great fun, a welcome change from the doldrums of an often busy and flustered existence here at Cooper. Many look forward to the return of the Cooper Union Drag Race in the upcoming academic year.

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)

On the Subject of Reinvention

Tensae Andargachew (ME ‘15)

At Cooper, Reinvention has begun. Well, not exactly. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

No one has forgotten the letter from President Bharucha explaining the deep financial crisis the school is in from a year and a half ago – and everyone since then has worked tirelessly to figure out how to solve it. The Revenue Task Force released a report in December 2011 that proposed keeping the full tuition scholarship and put in place revenue generating programs such as online course, programs for high school students, and professional development classes – all of which were explored in greater detail by the Engineering School’s Reinvention Graduate Tuition Committee.

Additionally, the committee explained how important the full tuition scholarship is and posed the questions everyone wants the answer to – how do we give Cooper its advantage? How do we optimize Cooper’s resources?

A few months later the Expense Reduction Committeee, which stressed how there has been a structural deficit and suggested a number of changes: phasing out of the BSE program, selling the dorms, and figuring out a better way to utilize the space Cooper has. These changes will eventually be taken into effect.

Throughout all of this, Joint Faculty Meetings were held, but unfortunately attendance was not great due to everyone’s non-overlapping schedules. So at some point last summer, President Bharucha asked each of the three schools individually to come up with a plan for their respective schools.

Each school, independent of one another, discussed plans to reinvent particular ways to generate a certain amount of revenue, with all the calculations confirmed by CDG, a firm hired by Cooper. Come winter, when the three deans of the three schools presented their plans to the Board of Trustees, they were met with resistance – not from the board itself, but from student protesters. Because of that, and the “No Tuition It’s Our Mission” protest last spring, “at that moment”, said Dean Bos, “it was interpreted that no revenue whatsoever [should be part of Reinvention]”.

The art faculty eventually then said that revenue generating programs were out of the question, and had to take a stand against it. They voted against forwarding the proposals to the board and wrote a nuanced letter explaining how they felt.

This letter was received, Dean Bos perceives, by the Board of Trustees and the president as an “unwillingness” to move forward with Reinvention, despite the last paragraph of the letter where the faculty essentially affirm their desire to work with the administration and the board.

However, once the students for next year’s class were deferred because no plan was put forward, it was made clear just how important adopting the plans was to the survival of the art school. Since then, the art school has put programs forward for Reinvention: a revenue generating precollege program which can start as early as 2014 where students learn about “how to think about going to an art school” and what a BFA is, and a Masters of Design Practice where students learn a lot about design in the social sphere.

So what does it all really mean? There are many proposals on the table, each of which sustain the three schools individually – not as a whole Cooper Union. Financially, the plan to reinvent has begun – however other aspects of Reinvention have yet to be tackled. The process of bridging the divide between the three schools has not yet begun.

The story of reinvention will continue to be this complicated story mired in conflict, but there is no question now – there is no turning back, the schools have proposed financially sustainable paths to take.

Silent Protest on the Grand Staircase

Marcus Michelen (BSE ‘14)

At 12:30 in the afternoon on March 6th, students from The Cooper Union came together to sit on the Grand Staircase.  The original plan was for the student body to meet on the grand staircase and then move to where the Board of Trustee’s mythic March meeting was taking place.  According to a Facebook post advertising the protest, “The protest will be non-violent and completely silent, but it will be an opportunity to show the board that we can stand as one whole in support of our school.”

At 12:35, the protestors turned completely silent.  The Grand Staircase was entirely covered in students, save for a small aisle to allow the occasional passerby to walk down.  There were far too many students there to count.  Every whisper seemed loud enough to be heard as passersby stood around in the lobby.  Students were walking around on the fourth floor, taking pictures of the protestors.  From the second floor, the sound of each of these shutters clicking was very audible.  It was a deafening silence.

A few minutes later, student Pete Halupka, an organizer of the event, singled out each of the three majors and asked all students of that major to raise their hands.  The representation from each of the three majors was fairly even.  He then asked that all students raise their hand, in an effort to show that our majors are merely a superficial boundary we must conquer.

Halupka then informed the silent protestors that the Board of Trustees meeting had been moved to an off-campus location, and that this is the first time that such a meeting has been moved off-campus.

Another student, Caleb Wang spoke briefly about the planning of the silent protest and explained that the differences in opinion between students can only be a good thing, and encouraged interdisciplinary discussion and civil debate.

Near the end of the protest, a student stood in lobby and asked the protestors to raise their hand if they agree with the mission statement of the school as it is currently written.  Nearly every protestor raised his or her hand.  He then asked if the protestors agree that “an injury to one is an injury to all.”  Again, nearly every protestor raised his or her hand.  This was followed by applause.

Wang spoke a few words before the protest ended, again encouraging inter-major discussion and debate as Halupka wrote “We Care” on pieces of duct tape that he handed out to the protestors.

The event ended a little before 1 pm.

Brian Cusack on Datatel

Caroline Yu (EE ‘15)

Every Cooper student remembers the night they registered on the WebAdvisor website. Many frustrated students contacted professors and staff members about the new online registration system. However, WebAdvisor is only a part of a larger software program that is being implemented at Cooper. Data can now being integrated across departments. Here’s what the new head, Professor Brian Cusack, has to say about the administrative software, Datatel Colleague.

The Cooper Pioneer: Can you describe your new role as head of Datatel at Cooper? What are your main objectives?

Brian Cusack: In short: it is my job to see that we use the software to its optimal potential. This breaks down to a number of responsibilities; some are short term and some are long term. We are “live” on most of the modules within the system, but there are still some departments that are working through migrations.

In the short term, it is my job to oversee the successful migration of the remaining modules and deployment of the remaining software applications. Longer term I will be working with user areas to prioritize the needs of the institution and coordinate modifications or enhancements as necessary. I am responsible for developing training programs and documentation so we can implement best practices throughout the institution.

Implementing an integrated software package like Datatel is a large undertaking, but the process allows for two important reflections:

• Looking outward – what new features does the software provide our procedures?
• Looking inward – how can updating our procedures gain the most from the software?

I’m here to make sure we make the most of the opportunities both of those questions present.

TCP: Why did Cooper decide to implement Datatel?

BC: In 2008, Cooper performed a Self-Study in preparation for the decennial Middle States accreditation visit. In 2009, the Information-Technology (IT) Committee was convened as specified by the Self Study. This committee was attended by individuals throughout the institution: faculty, administration, staff and students.

The committee visited other campuses, went to conferences, and discussed the needs of Cooper Union. In 2010, the committee submitted its final report. While its conclusions were many and varied, there was one clear overarching recommendation: “In summary, Cooper Union must install a web based integrated enterprise wide system that encompasses all elements of the delivery of a high quality Cooper Union education. Such a system will include modules that address finance, student, human resources, institutional advancement, advisement, course management and room scheduling. The ideal system will be modular in that each component can be implemented on a standalone basis and integrated as additional modules are implemented.”

Prior to 2011, The Cooper Union housed its data in siloed systems. Each department had its own management system and data warehouse which were selected at various times over the last 30 years. This led to many diverse systems across campus, many of which became problematic to reconcile.

In the late fall of 2010, Cooper Union began researching companies that could fit the requirement put forth by the IT Report. All sorts of programs were researched – but most were too big for us, like the very popular Banner. The field of choices was quickly narrowed to two candidates: Power Campus by Sungard HE and Colleague by Datatel.

Both companies came on campus and presented to stakeholders throughout the institution. At the end of the presentations, feedback from the stakeholders was considered, and Datatel was chosen as the integrated enterprise system for Cooper Union.

TCP: How has Cooper benefited from Datatel?

BC: Cooper is already seeing the benefits of Datatel. Some of these include:

• Data integrity and consistency. For example: when a department looks up the address of a student – every department will get the same address. This sounds simple, but with separate systems it was not unusual for something as simple as an address to vary greatly depending on which department you asked.
• Web-based access: among other actions, students can now register online (I know that was a big deal for the students)
• Admissions can now send out automatic communications to email accounts, and students can check their status of their application online.
• Professors have access to advisement tools they never had before.
• The business office has modern reporting tools they never had before.
• We are implementing scheduling software that will help us make the most of our limited space and resources.

TCP: What has been the most difficult aspect of Datatel to work with?

BC: I’ll give you two: change and workload.

Change is always hard. We are changing from diverse systems that were largely custom designed for individual tasks to an integrated system that is designed to work for everyone. Getting what you need (individually) from a system designed for everyone requires a bit of patience. Some individual tasks may not be as simple as they were before; however, they will be far more accurate in their results.

The added workload of training and migration is significant. We couldn’t stop running the school just so that everyone could be trained on the new system and work through the arduous task of migrating data from the previous systems. Many individuals have had to continue fulfilling their full time responsibilities while somehow fitting in the training and migration needs. It has been tremendously taxing on everyone but the dedication of the Cooper staff has been nothing short of miraculous.

Neither of these difficulties are unique to Datatel. They can be expected from any mass-data-migration. For their part, the consultants and technical support team at Datatel has been extremely helpful.

TCP: Do you have any advice for students, professors, or staff members who are still trying to fully transition to Datatel?

BC: Please be patient but don’t be afraid to share questions or comments. We are all learning and training as we go. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. If something is confusing – let me know; one of my new responsibilities is to coordinate documentation and training.