Features Features (News) — 16 October 2013
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Celebrating 25 Years of Interconnectivity Nov. 7

This student team wired the residence halls in 1996, accelerating the university’s plan to bring the entire campus online. The photo was on the cover of the alumni magazine, Fall 1996 issue.

On Nov. 2, 1988, Florida Tech was issued a Class C IP address, which established the university as a node on what was then known as the NSFNET, and thus global connectivity began at the university. Florida Tech’s initial connection to the Internet was made through the University of Florida via a 56 kbps leased circuit, which was basically a dial-up modem.

The impetus for this connection was the desire and need to provide Florida Tech researchers and faculty with direct and convenient electronic access to computing resources, including access to supercomputer centers, located throughout the country. Key Florida Tech personnel who were involved in making this happen and still on campus included Michael Gallo, associate professor, College of Aeronautics, Bill Shoaff, head of the computer sciences department, and Charles Fulton, professor of mathematical science. No longer here, David Clutterham, former head, mathematics and computer sciences department, and Dee Dee Pannell, former director, Academic Computing Services.

Gallo, who was hired in 1987 as the university’s UNIX network administrator, vividly recalls the challenges and triumphs associated with this important milestone in Florida Tech history.

“During the months leading up to our Internet connection, various administrators and faculty debated the merits and associated start-up and ongoing costs of connecting to the Internet. When Dee Dee Pannell, my supervisor then, was given authorization to move forward, two former colleagues of mine, Muslim Gadiwalla and Dan Stack, and I worked diligently to establish our connection to UF. Although internal funding was for only a year and extremely limited, which is why we only had a 56k link, we nevertheless prevailed. Dee Dee and I secured funding from NSF to expand the university’s local area network as well as upgrade our link to UF via a T1 circuit. During those early years, and working with limited resources, Dee Dee and I helped establish the foundation for our current campus network and our Internet connection.”

Commemorating Florida Tech’s entry into the digital domain, a 25th Anniversary Internet Celebration will take place Thursday, Nov. 7, 6:30-7:30 in the Link Multimedia Room. Refreshments will be provided.

Pannell, who arrived in 1966 and retired in 2006, will present “Connected to the Globe: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of FIT’s Internet,” followed by a Q&A time with Gallo, Shoaff and others who were here at the inception. Eric Kledzik, vice president, information technology, will provide an introduction.

Pannell began as a part-time adjunct instructor in mathematics. At the end of spring term 1980, she was hired as director of academic computing services. Student programmers submitted their programs on key punch cards and received their printouts the next day. As services increased, staff grew to seven full-time positions and as many as 15 lab assistants. Academic Computing was outsourced to SCT from 1995 to 2005. When the department was returned to Florida Tech, a new information technology organization was in place and Pannell’s new title was associate director for information technology, media services and development.

“There were many on campus involved in acquiring connectivity, including faculty, administration and, of course, academic computing staff; my role was facilitator. I visited other schools, made contacts, learned from key early adopters and shared what I learned with the Florida Tech administration and academic community.Mike Gallo was key to grant writing, technical expertise and implementation, and his was a huge contribution,” said Pannell.

Kathy Turner, Evans Library is coordinating the celebration. For more information, call her at ext. 8839.

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