Fine-tuning the carillon

Carillon wires

A view of the wires that connect the bells to the playing console below. Photo by David Olson.

Don Swem, carillon tech

Service technician Don Swem, climbing into the bell chamber. Photo by Erin Rosacker.

The Stanton Memorial Carillon got its annual checkup this week, a three-day service call to inspect the entire instrument and its 50 bells, all housed at the top of the campanile.

Don Swem, a service technician from the Cincinnati-based Verdin company, has traveled to the 48 contiguous states during his 44 years of carillon maintenance, but this was his first stop in Ames. The yearly service includes maintenance, such as cleaning the entire instrument and greasing the fittings. He also took a look at potential issues identified by ISU carillonneur and Cownie Professor of Music Tin-Shi Tam, who performs weekday concerts (11:50 a.m.) when school is in session.

Swem said he inspects the carillon for any problems, such as rattling or "anything coming loose." He said the biggest problem he's ever encountered -- although, not at ISU -- is a bell on the floor.

More images of the carillon are available in a photo gallery on the Iowa State Facebook page.

Interstate to the Internet

It's one of the big, new things on campus this fall, but it lacks the visibility of new buildings, classrooms or art. Tucked away under the streets and sidewalks, the new fiber optics network, often called "the backbone," is out of sight and, mostly, out of mind.

Behind the scenes, however, the upgraded backbone -- with 10 times more capacity than the old -- makes a real difference to the university community, said Jennifer Lohrbach, director of networks and communications for information technology services.

From two lanes to interstate

Think of the old backbone as a two-lane highway with a 10G speed limit, Lohrbach said. A few years ago, traffic on that highway mostly consisted of desktop computers. In recent years, smart phones, tablets and other Internet devices have crowded onto the same road at a rate of up to 100,000 devices per day.

When the new fiber optics network, with its 100G speed limit, was installed over the summer, it became Iowa State's four-lane interstate. There's less congestion on the backbone, which means traffic on Iowa State's portion of the Internet moves a little faster. And there's room to grow.

Big boost to research

The 100G network opens new avenues for researchers. High-speed networks give researchers an edge in a big data world. They can ramp up experiments. For example, Yong Guan, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, said Iowa State's new network will allow his team to conduct Internet security experiments on a larger, more realistic scale.  Researchers also can exchange data with far-flung colleagues, zipping enormous amounts of data from one high-speed network to another.

"The new backbone significantly improves the performance of data transfers and puts Iowa State among the leaders in research network capabilities," Lohrbach said. 

No high speed in your office

Lohrbach noted that the university community won't be opening documents and spreadsheets on their office computers at 100G speeds. Inside university buildings and offices, the network capacity drops to 1G, a perfectly adequate speed, Lohrbach said, since desktops and mobile devices aren't yet capable of handling high speeds.

In the interstate analogy, office networks are the on-ramps to Iowa State's high-speed backbone, which, in turn, is the on-ramp to the worldwide Internet.

Regents will receive eight business cases at special meeting

The state Board of Regents will hold a special meeting in Ames on Oct. 2 with a single agenda item: the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER). The meeting is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in 230 Scheman at the Iowa State Center. A live audio stream will be available on the board's website.

Board members will hear a presentation from the Deloitte consultants on eight more administrative business cases for possible implementation. A vote on the eight is expected at a yet-unscheduled special board meeting in early November, following a period of feedback on the three campuses.

The eight business cases are:

  • Streamline and standardize finance transaction processes
  • Streamline the human resources model for transactional services
  • Streamline the delivery of commodity technology services (such as user support, help desk, server management) within each university
  • Transform the central IT service delivery model
  • Simplify the applications portfolio across the three universities, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms
  • Make use of innovations to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for technology infrastructure
  • Reduce utility and operational costs by limiting use of buildings during evenings and summer
  • Reduce energy consumption by investing in energy management initiatives


These eight join four business cases the board approved for implementation at its August and September meetings:

  • Use strategic sourcing to negotiate better contracts for targeted spend categories
  • Establish clear policies for P&S position search committee size and structure
  • Create a common admissions application portal for prospective students
  • Standardize the "manual" calculation for the Regent Admission Index when all four performance factors aren't available

Together, they cover 12 of the 17 business cases identified by the Deloitte team in June for further study. The remaining five focus on issues identified early on related to academic programs. The team first focused on administrative processes and policies; an assessment of academic programs and how they're delivered began last month with the beginning of the academic year.


Celebrating a century of theater

Spring Awakening

Senior Christopher Kent and freshman Emmy Cuvelier portray title characters Melchior Gabor and Wendla Bergmann in the ISU Theatre production of Spring Awakening. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

ISU Theatre celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with six shows and a gala celebration. The season opens Oct. 3, when Spring Awakening takes the stage for a two-weekend run.

The Nov. 15 gala event will feature monologues, select scenes, singing and dancing during a two-hour showcase event at Fisher Theater (7:30 p.m.). Performances will include work by students, alumni, faculty and staff. The gala is free and open to the public.

Season tickets ($96 for adults, $91 for seniors and $65 for students) are available through Oct. 12. Contact ISU Theatre (email, 4-2624) for order forms if you did not receive one earlier this month via campus mail. Single performance tickets ($18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $11 for students, unless indicated) are on sale at the Iowa State Center ticket office, through Ticketmaster or at the door prior to each performance.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. With the exception of the final production, On the Verge, all shows run two weekends at the Fisher Theater.

A student-directed production, not yet selected, is scheduled for March 26-29. The time and location is to be determined. The show is not included in the season ticket package.

2014-15 ISU Theatre productions

Spring Awakening
Oct. 3-5, 10-12 (Fisher Theater)
A coming-of-age tragic comedy, set in 19th century Germany, for mature audiences.

Crimes of the Heart
Oct. 31-Nov. 2, Nov. 7-9 (Fisher Theater)
A tragic comedy about a dysfunctional family in the deep South.

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 5-7, 12-14 (Fisher Theater)
Based on the Charles Dickens classic holiday tale.

Love and Honor: Iowa in the Civil War
Feb. 27-March 1, March 6-8 (Fisher Theater)
An original production by ISU Theatre chair Jane Cox, based on the experiences of Iowans who volunteered in the Union Army.

Les Misérables
April 10-12, 17-19 (Fisher Theater)
ISU Theatre and the music department will partner to stage this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical for their annual spring production. Ticket prices are $24 for adults and seniors, $16 for students.

On the Verge
April 30-May 3 (Maintenance Shop, Memorial Union)
A one-actor show that tells the story of three Victorian women and the characters they meet as they time-travel.

A job well done


Assistant professor of music and theatre Jacob Harrison (left) was one of 46 individuals recognized during the annual university faculty and staff awards ceremony Monday afternoon, Sept. 22. He is congratulated here by President Steven Leath. Harrison and civil, construction and environmental engineering lecturer Beth Hartmann received Iowa State's Award for Early Achievement in Teaching. 

Harrison serves as director of orchestral activities for the department and teaches conducting classes. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences earlier this month named him its Jerry Shakeshaft Master Teacher in the Humanities and Social Sciences for the 2014-15 academic year.

The full list of award recipients is online. Photo by Gary Clarke.

Dinkey Day celebration is Friday evening

Dinkey at Morrill Hall

An early steam version of The Dinkey heads east to Ames, passing along the south side of Morrill Hall. Photo courtesy of Special Collections Department, ISU Library.

Ames' sesquicentennial celebration continues on Friday, Sept. 26, with a Dinkey Day family party in Campustown. The name is a nod to first the steam-powered train (1891-1907) and later electric trolley (1907-29) that ran between downtown Ames and campus. The Hub on central campus originated as a Dinkey station.

Dinkey Day is a free event and the public is welcome. Festivities will run from 5 to 9 p.m. in the 200 block of Welch Avenue. They include:

  • Live music stage at the Hunt Street intersection, bring your own lawn chairs
  • Activity zone that includes inflatables, games, face painting, hands-on activities, historic photo backdrop and large inflatable Cy for taking your own photos (parking lot south of Pizza Pit)
  • History exhibits about the city and the university
  • Cyclone Market, highlighting ISU student organizations (Battles BBQ parking lot)
  • Soda Fountain Garden with complimentary root beer and cream soda (post office parking lot)
  • Food vendors with items for purchase

Stage schedule

Three bands will perform at Dinkey Day, the first two of which were regulars at the former People's Bar and Grill in Campustown during the 1990s. They are:

  • 5:15 p.m., Dazy Head Mazy

  • 6:45 p.m., Red Wanting Blue

  • 8:15 p.m., Home Free

If it rains, the concert will be moved indoors to the city auditorium, 515 Clark Ave.