By Jillian Anderson, reporter
Everyone has their phones out, checking the stats or other football games, but someone’s having a bit of trouble. He can find a person in a bright yellow polo shirt ready to assist him by telling them his flip phone doesn’t have Wi-Fi capabilities.
Micah Lamb, assistant director of support systems, said that the idea of Wi-Fi coaches was influence by trends in NFL stadiums. The Wi-Fi coaches program was launched last year with the opening of McLane Stadium. McLane Stadium is one of the first collegiate stadiums to have Wi-Fi and is one of the only two in the Big 12.
Management Information Systems students, called Wi-Fi coaches, help fans with Wi-Fi set-up at games. Baylor Information Technology Systems and MIS partnered to give students the opportunity to test their skills and help fans. The goals of the Wi-Fi coaches are to give the students a more hands-on experience with solving real-time problems and giving fans a great game day experience.
Wi-Fi coaches are students of the Hankamer School of Business studying Management Information Systems. They are vetted through an application process and earn internship credit for the experience.
“One big advantage [of McLane Stadium] is that it’s a brand new. It was built with Wi-Fi in mind,” Lamb said.
Extreme Networks, a California-based networking company, won the bid to work with IT Infrastructure to create a high-density network for McLane Stadium. In addition to assisting with the Wi-Fi network, Extreme Networks worked with ITS and MIS to create the Wi-Fi coaches program.
“The program is unique. As far as we know no one else does it,” said Andrew Stripling, technology support specialist and head Wi-Fi coach.
These Wi-Fi coaches wear bright yellow polo shirts stating their position and are stationed throughout the stadium during pre-game and the first quarter. Through out the rest of the game, they walk around the concourse.
“It’s been very successful, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems,” said Bob Hartland, Associate Vice President of IT infrastructure.
The Wi-Fi in McLane Stadium is a high-density network designed to support 45,000 fans, but it’s difficult to simulate that amount of people other than to see it in action, Hartland said.
“On campus it’s a different situation because faculty and staff mostly use the same device,” Hartland said.
When working, Wi-Fi coaches experience handling several different devices, from iPhones and iPads to Android and Windows devices. The most common problem seen by the coaches is people not know how to connect to the stadium’s Wi-Fi Lamb said.
“We want students to become even more confident in their ability to handle the problems that are non-standard and start thinking outside the box,” Lamb said.
Lamb and Stripling, both graduates of Baylor, are proud of the work the students have done and are glad to give them real hands-on experience.
“We’re learning how good something can be when things come together,” Stripling said.
In addition to Wi-Fi in McLane, Baylor offers the Baylor In-Game app which allows fans to access video reply footage when connected to McLane Stadium Wi-Fi. The app also gives fans access to live statistics, quotes, and game photos.