Southwest Holds Ribbon Cutting For New ILS Technology Lab

The February 26 Ribbon Cutting and Naming Ceremony marked the grand opening for the Inventory Locator Service (ILS) Technology Lab located in the Butler Building on the Southwest Tennessee Community College Macon Cove Campus. Inventory Locator Service,® LLC (ILS), a subsidiary of The Boeing Company headquartered in Memphis, partnered with Southwest to open the new technology lab.

"Southwest prides itself on building and developing corporate and community partnerships, but none has been as strong, really, as the bond that we have established with ILS. What began in 1985 with a $1,000 scholarship has blossomed today into a lab that will allow both parties to grow innovative ideas and technologies. More importantly, the center and the donation made by ILS will allow a new generation of students to create ideas in a unique environment that caters to students, faculty, and technology professionals," remarked Southwest President Nathan Essex.

This innovative lab will operate as a test facility for Southwest's Information Technology Services (ITS) staff and faculty, as well as students enrolled in information technology classes. The lab allows for piloting new technology without impacting the production environment, thus giving ITS the capacity to see how technology will work prior to investing. It fosters a collaborative environment in which departments and industry can discover, innovate, conceptualize, and improve on best practices and future technologies; and also allows students to be involved with every aspect of technology development at Southwest.

ILS President Eric Anderson commented on potential employment opportunities at ILS for Southwest graduates. "ILS has been in Memphis since 1979. Our founder [Minnie Ash] is a graduate of the former State Technical Institute at Memphis (now Southwest Tennessee Community College). We have a number of employees who've been educated at Southwest. And so, our contribution to this is the right thing for our company to give to the community, and give a facility like this for learning to the students. And the best thing would be is if some students that were trained here, eventually may join our company, at some point. … People who are skilled and capable are always in good demand," said Anderson.

The laboratory comprises six individual labs with various functions. "We have Windows 8 in one room, virtual desk tops in another, Macintosh computers in one, a video conferencing area, a room that we use to deploy, and a traditional classroom," explained Executive Director of Information Technology Services Michael Boyd.

Regarding conducting tests at the new laboratory, Boyd said, "Any technology that we want to use at the college, we will test here at this facility. There will be a stand-alone network in this building; so we can test it out and see how it reacts with our current environment before putting it into our production environment."


Photo caption: (L to R) Michael Boyd, Southwest Provost and Executive Vice President Joanne Bassett, Eric Anderson, Dr. Nathan Essex, and Vice President for Institutional Advancement Karen Nippert cut the ribbon on Southwest's new ILS Technology Lab.