At San Diego State University’s College of Engineering, the rapid asexual mitosis of comp sci students has engendered a problem: there are more students than lab computers.
The iPad to the rescue! By rebuilding its web server infrastructure to support virtual computing through Mobile Safari, almost all of the students at SDSU are able to do most of their work on the go, whether through the iPad, iPhone or Android (boo).
The main goal of the program? To free up valuable lab time.
“Sometimes they have classes in the labs at five, six and seven o’clock,” said Shivkumar Somasundaram, a graduate student studying electrical engineering who is part of the pilot program. “We used to have to wait until classes were over to work in the computer labs. Now, I can just do my work at home.”
The advantage here is that of the thin client: because the iPad or iPhone are capable operating as a mobile terminal, the raw horsepower of their ARM architecture is not a consideration. All that matters is a medium-to-fat pipe.
“It opens up the entire educational package,” said Randall German, associate dean of the College of Engineering. “It makes education more accessible and more flexible. Now students who have childcare issues or have to be at a job, can do their work on their own time, rather than waiting in line for a computer in the lab. It really opens up opportunities for a new kind of student.”
Right now, over three hundred and fifty students are signed up for the program, and doing some to all of their work remotely.
But perhaps the most surprising thing? The iPad and iPhone sometimes do their calculations better than the actual lab computers on some applications. Must be the A4 secret sauce.