NMU has started the process of converting a light tower into an antenna to extend the WiMAX service into Harvey.
Earlier this month, NMU removed a light tower from outside Gries Hall. The tower will be turned into an antenna for the WiMAX signal and transported out to Cherry Creek Elementary School in the Harvey area.
“We’ve been working in Harvey to improve coverage out there and we looked at the high mast towers and saw that they probably were about the right height and got the idea that maybe we should try and repurpose them,” said Eric Smith, the director of broadcast and audio visual services at NMU.
This is not the first tower to be removed from campus. Smith said that the problem with the old towers is that they are too tall and give off too much light. Instead of lighting the sidewalks, they light the tops of the trees. NMU has been replacing the taller light towers with the shorter ones that are more common around campus.
“As the campus has grown and the trees have grown, these lights have posed significant problems,” Smith said. “They’ve been replacing the light towers with the shorter mast you see around campus that actually direct the light down on the sidewalk; which provides better campus lighting.”
The tower will be relocated to Harvey as part of NMU’s agreement with the Marquette Area Public Schools (MAPS).
“We have a cooperative agreement with MAPS that allows us to share resources and in exchange for that, they gain some access to our WiMAX system,” Smith said.
According to Smith, NMU entered into the agreement with MAPS after NMU classes were done for the summer.
“We did it because we were interested in having WiMAX coverage out in the Harvey area,” Smith said. We also knew that the public schools could benefit from some of the high technology,” said Smith.
Smith said this project is a great example of cooperation, as it involves many different departments from within NMU. The administration technology group, the engineering and planning department and the public broadcasting department all participated in the project.
The project has been in progress for a while, and most of the time used was spent planning it out. The physical work was only a small part.
“Including all the planning and site work and all the extra work that went into finding a site, talking with the people that work out there, developing a plan, it took a couple months,” said James Thams, the associate director of Engineering and Planning at NMU. “Taking the light down is just a small part of the project.”
The tower that was moved measured 100 feet and heavy machinery is required to move it. A large crane is brought in to lift the pole up and set it on a flatbed semi, said Don Salo, director of Telecomunication Services.
NMU has also been replacing the Gries light tower. According to Salo, series of wall mounted lights have been installed around the sidewalks adjacent to Gries Hall. More light poles will also be added to cover the sidewalks along the road in the area around the four-way intersection, which they hope to have done by October.
Salo said he contributes the success of the project so far to the people who have helped make it possible.
“The people have really made this happen,” Salo said. “It’s really been a wonderful group to work with.”