Student @ Community College Partner Installs Cable in Calit2 Building

6.8.2005 – Jason McAllister, a student enrolled in the Institute for Telecommunications Technologies (IT2 ) at Cuyamaca College, a Calit2 partner, is employed by ISI (Interconnect Solutions, Inc.) as part of the team installing telecommunications cabling and associated backbone infrastructure in the Calit2 building at UCSD.

ISI is installing Section 16740 telecommunications cabling (network and telephony) in the Calit2 building and integrating this infrastructure with fiber-optic cabling linking the building to the UCSD campus network. Walking around the building now, you’ll see overhead cable trays filled with Category 6 copper cables in blue jackets, each of which consists of four twisted pairs supporting one network drop at gigabit Ethernet speeds for the building’s local area network. The cabling is being subjected to a series of tests to ensure its performance transmitting 1,000 megabits per second at the correct frequency.

This network will support massive connectivity. For example, each office will be equipped with two six-port outlets to which it will be possible to connect as many as 12 computers and/or printers.

Cable closet
Installing cable in closet
on first floor
of Calit2 building at UCSD
Jason McAllister
Jason McAllister

A team of 4-12 people from ISI has been working on this project for about a year. Altogether, McAllister estimates they will install two million feet of cabling in the building.

ISI, familiar to UCSD, also cabled the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, the Natural Sciences building, and, most recently, the Cancer Center dedicated in April. They are also working on the Pharmaceutical Science building.

Installing cable from ladder
Installing cable from ladder
Up close overhead cabling
Cabling overhead
Cabling up close
Cabling up close

“I had planned to become a zoologist,” says McAllister, “when I went to work for ISI. But my experience with this company caused me to change my focus area to telecommunications. I investigated various options, and Cuyamaca seemed to offer the best program. I visited the campus and saw a movie introducing the program that featured Calit2. Amazingly, I had already been working in the Calit2 building. I guess you could say this experience reinforced my desire to enroll.”

IT2 is led by PI Ted Chandler and co-PI Connie Elder. The two are important figures on campus for their success in winning an $883,000 NSF Advanced Technological Education grant to develop telecommunications and networking curriculum, multimedia and Web-based curriculum delivery, teacher training workshops, and a program supporting greater involvement of women. In addition, this grant has provided a state-of-the-art, hands-on teaching lab that is the pride of the college. (Calit2’s director of communications Stephanie Sides is a member of IT2’s Advisory Board.)

McAllister intends to earn his associate of science degree in Telecommunications Networking Technologies, then transfer to San Diego State University, which offers a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering that particularly welcomes Cuyamaca graduates.

He says he enjoys the interplay between working in industry and learning about the technology in the classroom. “I was in the Telecommunications Cabling class, where we were learning about the six subsystems of the infrastructure,” he says, “and I could harken back to the wiring closets in the Calit2 and Cancer Center buildings, which has made learning much easier.”

He also enjoys talking with vendors about where they expect technology to go over the next 10 years.

“It’s a fun industry,” he says, “because every day is different. You have to think.” He goes on to cite a few examples of going on service calls where the task is to extend the Internet Service Provider’s “drop” to a particular location. “You have to figure out how to get the circuit to a given destination using existing wiring,” he says. “It’s like solving a puzzle.”

McAllister is delighted to have found the program at Cuyamaca. “Most other programs focus on Electrical Engineering," he says, "but I wanted to focus on Telecommunications.”

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