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ECU Technology and Computer Science faculty and students shared with Greene County school officials the outcome of four months of work to repair connectivity problems for the school system. Pictured above are (front row, left to right) Patricia MacNeill, assistant director for Greene County Schools; John Pickard, ECU faculty; ECU student Joe Nix; (back row, left to right) Steve Mazingo, Greene County Schools superintendent; Lee Toderick, ECU faculty; John Griffiths, Wavelength Wireless Technologies; and ECU student Paul Bellamy. (Contributed photo)

ECU Team Troubleshoots School's Internet Woes

A site team from ECU’s College of Technology and Computer Science has completed a four-month project to repair a technical problem in the Greene County school system.

Students and teachers at Greene County schools had been experiencing technical difficulties, particularly with Internet access, since the fall of 2006. Many of the system’s 3,000 computers operated at extremely slow speed, with frequent freezes or time-outs on testing programs and in-class assignments.

After several outside consulting agencies tackled the problems with no success, ECU’s team was called in. Department of Technology Systems faculty John Pickard and Lee Toderick, along with students Paul Bellamy and Joe Nix, began work to determine the cause of the connectivity problem.

On Feb. 23, they presented to Greene County superintendent Steve Mazingo a final report outlining corrective measures taken and additional recommendations for the school system.

“Before ECU came on board,” Mazingo said, “There was a bottleneck problem that no one could find.”

“They came in, analyzed the problem and quickly went to work to repair our problems. We are 90 percent better off now than we were before they arrived, and we are well on our way to bigger and better things for the students of Greene County,” he said.

The team conducted an exhaustive and meticulous investigation. They traveled from location to location and reconfigured the entire system, while moving or replacing crucial pieces of equipments such as routers or switches. They identified more than 100 power cords and surge protectors that were positioned so that they created electromagnetic interference, which contributed to the connection problems. They also found equipment mismatches and reconfigured the devices or redesigned the network.

The ECU team collaborated with Embarq and CISCO Systems to establish efficient function of all equipment. The system’s Internet provider, Wavelength Wireless, increased bandwidth at all sites as well.

Greene County teachers can now conduct online testing and stream video presentations and projects, all services that were never before available.

The collaboration between ECU faculty and students was a success as well. Toderick said the experience demonstrated to students “that what we’re teaching is very applicable to what they will see in today’s business world.”

“This experience reinforced our curriculum with emphasis placed on basic understanding of network and logical troubleshooting,” he said. “Furthermore, these students discovered the necessity for teamwork, learning how synergy can result in overwhelming success.”

This page originally appeared in the April 27, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at