Cowley_DaughterFacebook recently reminded me of when one of my kids spoke at her graduation ceremony from the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. 

Almost simultaneously, I heard that SMU was extending their campus fiber ring underneath a major highway to connect their east campus to the main. This is likely the final piece to upgrading its network that started several years ago, connecting and protecting their most valuable assets – their students, our children. 

SMU is a beautiful campus, like a classic ivy-league school (but it’s warm in the winter), and we all immediately fell in love with it.  With three new buildings dedicated to engineering, it matched the educational focus my daughter valued.  Only 45 minutes from home, it matched my wife’s key criteria.  And they were, and still are, a valued CommScope SYSTIMAX customer.  I clearly remember sitting in a lecture with my daughter and marveling at the Cat6A ports at every desk, much to my daughter’s chagrin.

Regarding infrastructure, fiber is a focus for campuses of all types: education, healthcare, sprawling corporate campuses and multi tenant data centers (MTDC).  And yes, it’s still about bandwidth and distance, but now fiber supports a broader suite of applications beyond building-to-building interconnectivity. 

For example, during my daughter’s four years on campus, she struggled with cellular coverage, particularly when she was in a low-level dorm room her freshman year.  But as students and parents raised their collective voice, SMU responded and installed our ION DAS solution, which is enabled by a fiber backbone. Together, we eliminated “poor coverage” as an excuse for students not taking your calls!  You’re welcome parents of the future! 

And why do we want to call?  Because we worry.  We worry about everything, but particularly their safety. Fiber helps there as well, with powered fiber cable systems supporting remote deployments of POE-enabled devices such as security cameras and WiFi access points across a large campus, so they’re always connected, always in sight. 

SMU is meeting the expectations of the next generation of students and parents. My daughter graduated SMU in 2014 with a degree in civil/environmental engineering and teaches high school physics and chemistry to future engineers in the greater Dallas area. I am obviously proud of her, but I’m also happy to be helping SMU and campuses of all types connect and protect their employees, students and visitors. When it comes to connectivity, what other improvements do you think campuses could provide their students?

About the Author

Simon Cowley

Simon C. Cowley is director of campus fiber market development for CommScope.  In this role, he is responsible for developing unique and comprehensive solutions for the office and campus workplace environment covering copper, fiber, wireless, and power technologies. Simon previously led CommScope’s Enterprise Solutions Global Technical Support team since 2006.  He also served as director of apparatus R&D for copper, fiber, and intelligent systems and fiber optic engineering manager since joining CommScope in 2001. Before joining Commscope, he served in various engineering, business development, and management capacities with Amphenol Fiber Optics, ITT Cannon, and FCI/Berg Electronics. Simon is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with an MBA in Global Management from the University of Phoenix.

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