Skills for the Wired World: Information Technology Class Gets Hands On

In the Data and Networks class taken as part of Globe University’s information technology degree program, students recently learned how to install terminating hardware on cables.

information technology degree programThe information technology (IT) field encompasses many skills and knowledge abilities and tasks. Generally, IT professionals fall into two categories – networking and programming. There are variations such as security and database administration, and many others.

Networking consists mainly of configuring existing software and hardware to allow for device communication while programming involves writing new programs, which are better known to most as “apps.”

In the networking arena, devices must communicate either through a wired or wireless connection. Both require the applicable hardware devices. The installation for wired connections is termed “premises wiring” and involves terminating the installed wires (cables).

Dan Reynolds, a Globe University-Wausau information technology student, learned how to install the various connectors – RJ45 plug, RJ45 jack, and patch panel – required to complete the connections (termed termination) required for premises wiring. To do this, he used the tools of the trade – crimper, cable stripper, punch down tool, and continuity tester – to confirm the connections he made were properly made and computer signals would traverse from device to device.

The process, although seemingly simple, is anything but and must be properly completed using the telecommunication industry standard ANSI/TIA-568-C for cabling systems. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) sets industry standards for businesses, contractors, and individuals to ensure interoperability of equipment and devices. Their standards involve many types of telecommunication subsystems–cabling, cellular, satellites, and more–all systems which we use on a daily basis.

Dan commented on his experience, stating, “Working with the cables, tools and devices used in the field really helps bridge the gap between learning and doing. It allows me to actually use what I’ve learned in the same way that I will in my career.”

Although a company may hire a cabling contractor to install and terminate the cabling for a building to comply with building codes, having the hands-on knowledge to converse with a contractor is paramount to ensure that the company’s needs are met. If there is a problem after the premises wiring is completed, having an IT professional with knowledge in the terminology and components will result in quick resolution.

In addition, having the knowledge and skills to cable a home network increases the satisfaction of undertaking such a project. The Information Technology field is a hands-on field, and premises wiring is one of the may tasks involved.

By Jim Yulga, Information Technology Program Chair, Globe University-Wausau