By Liz Warren-Pederson


mckeever speaking

Jeff McKeever was recognized as Eller’s alumnus of the year at Homecoming 2013.
Photo courtesy UA Alumni Association.

A year ago, the Department of MIS celebrated the renovation of a 12-year-old lab space at McClelland Hall. The new space – the MicroAge Lab – included a complete technology overhaul, funded by alumnus and MicroAge founder Jeff McKeever (Eller Accounting ’65 and MBA ’73). His investment built on grant funding that the department used to construct a technical classroom. The result? A flexible space with room for both team collaboration and teaching, with cutting-edge back-end technology supporting both.

“Before Jeff’s donation, we had 30 computers,” said Mark Patton, director of the lab. “Now we’re at 53.” The additional machines mean that the lab can now accommodate full classes, such as the database and project management courses for master’s in MIS students. “It’s a critical resource not only for MIS, but for accounting as well,” Patton said. “We’re running Quickbooks labs and giving accounting students experience on software that automates business processes.”

Patton pointed out that the MicroAge lab is booked solid. Another reason for that? “Bill Neumann teaches MIS 111 with an Excel lab,” he said. “All 1600 of his students took their final exam in the lab.”

It was a significant logistical challenge. “We have 40 sections of the class,” Neumann said. “The testing process takes two weeks, and we have a test bank of 800 questions. Students randomly get 25 of those questions. Without this space, it would be impossible for us to proctor an online exam.”

Robert Owen teaches two sections of the MIS 688 project management class, in which teams of students work on consulting projects over an entire semester. “The space is important for us, because without it, we’d be scattered all over the place,” he said. “As the instructor, I need to engage with the teams as they work together, but I also need to bring them all together for knowledge development moments in the classroom.”

Students also have ongoing access to the lab. Most of the MS-MIS students use it daily. “It is definitely a good place to study and do your assignments,” said first-year student Prathamesh Bhurke, who used the space to prep for the Nextrio Case Competition, which his team went on to win.

“Access to the MicroAge Lab provides us opportunities to prepare well for our courses, especially working in teams,” Rajesh Gill said. “Additionally, you can chat with your friends and have a good time amidst the busy and demanding MIS courses. It saves time, too, as we don’t have to walk across the campus to go to the main library. In simple words, it makes our lives easy and I believe I speak on behalf of all MIS students!”

Top image by Simmons Buntin.