Created in 2013, BNIC, or the Bobcat Network Innovation Center, is an organization within the School of Info and Telecom Systems that provides students hands on experience with valuable industry tools and practices. This experience comes in the form of 2 sets of labs that can be accessed via Google Drive. The labs cover the concepts of VMWare and Active Directory, concepts that are important to industry professionals.
“BNIC was designed as a space to cultivate and develop the critical knowledge of important industry technologies. In turn, this has led to a lot of positive feedback from IT Professionals both inside and outside Ohio University,” says Bowie.
Bowie has been a network administrator, primarily for the ITS program, since 1997. His main role is to provide support for the lab environments, whether that be VMWare, Windows Active Directory or IoT. With his impressive knowledge of all things IT, it was not a challenge for Bowie to create some labs and presentations for the ITS students.
“The Dean of the Scripps College of Communication put out a call for a more creative approach to student experiences. I envisioned an environment where students could innovate more rapidly and with room to grow that knowledge. I decided to create labs for students and make special time in the Schoonover 004 lab to explore,” says Bowie.
BNIC has developed over the years into an informal environment where students can come in and deep dive into whatever technology topic they are interested in. This has lead to a number of students bringing their hardware to the organization such as Gaming PC’s, Raspberry Pi’s and even servers.
Not only are students getting involved, but faculty, alums and other staff as well. Brandon Saunders, visiting professor in ITS, is a frequent attendee of BNIC who lends his extensive knowledge of IT and a helping hand. Corey Shafer, OIT Linux administrator, has come to a meeting and demoed competing VM hypervisors. Finally, Craig James, an ITS alum working for Buckeye Rural Electric, comes to nearly all the meetings and talks to students about the active environment that he runs for his company.
“The thing I love most about BNIC is how unpredictable it is. There is something new every time that we meet and it excites me just thinking about it,” says Bowie.