We know about the top party schools and the best schools for sports. But which college or University is the most technologically advanced in the U.S.?

Unigo, an online resource for college information, polled students at hundreds of colleges across the country and came up with the top 10 Wired Campuses list — as well as some interesting findings.

College students are more wired than ever before. Today, 98% of college students own a digital device. A majority of undergraduates report owning more than 12 digital devices, including computers, laptops, printers, smart phones, web-cams and digital cameras.

Though it’s not commonplace, four out of five students believe campus-wide Wi-Fi access is extremely valuable for academic success.

Colleges appear to have taken note. Some 51% of campuses upgraded parts of their wireless networks in the 2011-12 year (supporting a 60% increase in mobile devices on campus.) 91% of students frequently use email to contact their teachers.

If the survey concludes one thing, it’s that students want more technology on campus. Three out of four don’t feel like their schools are using technology effectively enough.

The schools on this list are the exception -– the pioneers who have plastered their campus with computers for students, made sure campus-wide wi-fi is the norm, integrated technology into the classroom, and put their collective minds towards offering majors and courses that aren’t just keeping up with today, but are training students to use and create the technology of tomorrow.

1. Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon, the private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was originally founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as the Carnegie Technical Schools in 1900.

In addition to the Wi-Fi running throughout most of the campus, there are a myriad of departments and programs having to do with all aspects of technology. Carnegie Mellon's Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation connects inventions developed on campus with companies that can bring them to market. The Quality of Life Technology Center focuses "on the development of intelligent systems that enable older adults and people with disabilities to live more independently."

Carnegie Mellon is home to Professor Manuela Veloso, aka the “Robot Master,” who teaches in the computer science department. Her longtime interest and study in automation and AI led to the creation of robot soccer which now has its own competitive league known as Robocup.

Pomona College is a private, liberal arts college in Claremont, California; one of five undergraduate schools that form Claremont Colleges. Students at Pomona have access to all the facilities, programs, and resources it shares with the other schools. That means they can participate in the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Program of the Claremont Colleges.

Students can opt for an STS concentration or major which includes courses in "science and technology practice" among others, and three concentration courses on a specific science and technology issue.

The University of Richmond is one wired campus. The computer to student ratio is 1:3 on campus and the University's tech support team even offers assistance for personal computers, which not many schools do.

Eighty five percent of the University's courses offer an online component, letting students work collaboratively by sharing documents, notes, and other class materials. It helps that every room at the university has internet access. No Wi-Fi is no excuse here.

The University of Richmond hosted the first town-hall style presidential debate in 1992, and President Obama chose it recently as the setting to present the American Jobs Act to the nation. The University of Richmond has been active in incorporating computer science into other disciplines of study.

Harvey Mudd College is the second undergraduate school from the Claremont Colleges consortium to make this list. It is even smaller than Pomona, with only 800 students, but like Pomona, it offers great resources to those who attend.

Computer science and engineering majors have the opportunity to take part in the Harvey Mudd “Clinic,” a year-long capstone course in which students create their own software design project. The Clinic has become a tradition ever since it took off in the engineering department in the early 1960s.

Georgia Tech is known as one of the country's preeminent technology schools and it continues that tradition. The College of Computing is spearheading what it calls the “new face of computing,” which is a program aimed at bringing in more women engineers, and establishing a more diversified engineering discipline.

In addition, Georgia Tech is home to the Advanced Technology Development Center which, since 1980, has helped entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and grow more than 130 technology companies. In all, they've raised over a billion dollars in financing, in partnership with Georgia Tech's center for technology.

Colgate University is a private, liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York. It recently (in 2010) installed a new campus wireless system (ARUBA), expanding Wi-Fi access throughout most of the university and residence halls.

Colgate also replaced Blackboard with Moodle as its course management system of choice.

Colgate was among the first colleges to introduce an independent computer science program and the Colgate’s CS Club has hosted Google Code Jam.

Colgate isn't all about high tech though. While Colgate gets its electricity from hydroelectric power generated by Niagara Falls, the campus is still primarily heated by a boiler that burns wood chips!

Hamilton College boasts a computer to student ratio of almost one computer for every two students. The school's Information Technology Services department is highly committed to providing up-to-date computers and software for its faculty to use in the classroom.

Not just any old laptop gains admission to this school. There are minimum requirements for personal computers before they're allowed to access Hamilton's extensive Wi-Fi network. You can be sure one of those is the special Hamilton College-approved anti-virus program.

Recent Hamilton graduates have been heavily recruited by IBM, Google and Apple.

Washington University is seeking to integrate technology into all aspects of campus life; academics, research, and administration. There's a high-speed campus network infrastructure connecting all the campuses, which provides links to the Internet2 and National Lambda Rail research networks.

Wired campuses come at a cost. Students here complain about the high fees for internet and television access in student housing.

Washington University’s Computer Science and Engineering department offers students over 80 courses, ranging from business ethics, to team formation, finance and intellectual property.

Wake Forest has come a long way since the days it was known as "Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute." It's computer to student ratio is 1.08 to 1, which is more than twice as high a ratio as any other college on this list.

Students, faculty, and even parents stay connected to what's going on on campus via the “Wake Forest Campus Life” app. It updates 24 hours a day with info on events and important contacts. Students can access the app using the extensive Wi-Fi coverage throughout the campus.

Wake Forest is helping to serve the needs of it's community as well. This past spring, Google awarded Wake Forest’s Computer Science and Physics departments a grant to organize computational thinking workshops for local schools. Student volunteers from the Computer Science undergraduate and graduate programs worked with the local teachers in this effort.

Denison isn't only a wired college, it's also a green one, owing possibly to the fact it was named after a farmer who pledged money toward the college's endowment.

The Information Technology Services department does what it can to reduce their carbon footprint; defaulting campus printers to printing double sides, recycling computer components, printer cartridges, and toner.

Students here use Denison Apps powered by Google. It's a web based suite of apps for emailing, scheduling, and sharing all major documents throughout the university.

Denison utilizes a customizable service called 'myDENISON' which provides channels for the administration, clubs, athletics, etc., to broadcast their announcements either to the entire student body or a closed network.

So why isn't Denison ranking higher on this list? Denison is the only school on this list that still doesn't let students register for their classes online.


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August 24, 2012