There was time in Pilani when the IPC was the coolest spot, where students went to interact with the world outside Pilani using black-screen, text-based computers. But a whole wide world of knowledge, color and interactivity lay beyond for students and faculty to explore.Galvanized by then Director S Venkateswaran, BITSAA decided in 2002 that there was just too much education outside of the Faculty Divisions that was waiting for us to be exploited. Thus was seeded the BITSConnect project, a $1.5 million network connectivity project. Over nine months, alumni raised $750,000 from within their community, proposals and bids evaluated and the network designed. In two phases, the most advanced network at any Indian university was launched, providing BITS with a gigabit backbone, broadband access and telephones and video conferencing abilities (IP telephony) in every room in every bhawan (hostel), all staff quarters, the guest house, as well as wireless access in Sky and the Library. ‘Neuron’ was inaugurated by then President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.BITSConnect enabled campus course material delivery on the network, research and collaboration in niche areas of work and enhancing virtual classes for DLPD.The project was a case study in alumni stepping beyond their mandate. It was also a fine example of volunteers relentlessly sweating it out to brilliantly execute a project of gigantic proportions, seeking nothing in return except to revel in being BITSians.They say history repeats itself. As an increasingly talented and resourceful bunch, BITSAA now has initiated project BITS Connect 2.0, a project to bring advanced telepresence connectivity between the four campuses and connecting them to the outside world with state-of-the-art networks.
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