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6.001 Lab Receives New Computers from Intel Grant

By Thomas Lin

This year’s crop of 6.001 students are currently enjoying the fruits of a major summer renovation which added 28 new high-speed computers to the course’s computer lab.

The computers offer major advantages in comparison to Athena workstations and the aging Hewlett-Packard workstations that they replaced in terms of speed and comfort, according to many students in the class, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.

“The computers here are faster than any computers on Athena, that’s for sure” said Jose T. Munoz ’02. One major difference is the speed of the new computers, which rely on Pentium III processors running at 500 Megahertz. This processing power tops the speeds of computers that many students have in their rooms.

“Although we don’t absolutely need the special processing speed, it enables us to do more with such modern equipment” said 6.001 Professor Duane S. Boning.

Each new computer also sports its own 21-inch color monitor. Compared to the black and white monitors used last year, students felt that the monitors this year are easier to see, more comfortable to look at, and allow for greater screen capacity. “I wish I could take one of these systems home” said Naveen Goela ’03. “These computers are not only faster, but their monitors are big and easy to see, and generally easier to do computations on.”

Computer lab spacing arrangements also improved over the summer. Now the computers are arranged on spacious tables of four computers apiece. “We are really happy that in addition to the new computers, we now have a new layout that makes the lab a truly pleasant place to work and interact while learning how to program,” Boning said.

Three-year grant funds overhaul

The grant of new computers is part of Intel Corporation’s “Technology for Education 2000” $5.6 million three-year donation of equipment and services to MIT. Each computer also sports a striking “Donated by Intel” sticker.

The Intel sticker “also helps MIT students feel good about the speed and reliability of Intel based systems through the speed and reliability of the systems in the lab” Goela said.

“I think it’s wonderful that Intel so generously donated these fine machines to help us pursue our cutting edge research here at MIT” said Michael Y. Moon ’03.

The 6.001 Lab is a computer lab solely for the use of students taking the class, and is located on the fifth floor of building 38. Often students will go there to work on 6.001 problem sets because it is quiet, and because of lab assistants are on hand to help students with any difficulties they may encounter while working on problem sets.

Remote location miffs some

However, one common complaint from students using the 6.001 Lab is about how it is off near the edge of campus.

“The Lab is so inconveniently located. I live on the other side of campus and I have to walk a long way to get here,” said Rani Bhuva ’03, who is using the lab right now primarily because she does not have her own computer for her dorm room yet.

Some students find the walk to be worth it. “It’s not as convenient as just using the computer in my dorm, but they have Lab Assistants here so that if you’re ever stuck, you can get help easily” said Kam T. Hung ’99.

According to lab administrators, there are always plenty of open computers in the lab with the exception of Thursday night; 6.001 problem sets are due on Friday. To alleviate this problem, lab administrators have set up a system in which students can sign up for two hour blocks of time in which to work. This helps avoid the hassle of students having to wait around for computers.