Posted February 12, 2016

TECH Center marks 10th anniversary

Over the course of a decade, the TECH Center has logged more than 10 million visits and has defied expectations.

Video Production: Gina Benigno
On paper, Temple’s monumental computer center is called the TECH Center.

Still, those who use the facility frequently have long bestowed it with affectionate nicknames. Some call it “the TECH” (for brevity), others “Club TECH” (because everyone knows it’s where you go to burn the midnight oil).

But what’s in a nickname? For the TECH Center, perhaps a lot.

In 10 years, the center has come to represent a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s a place of collaboration, where identifying factors such as schools, classes and major don’t matter much—business students and film majors don’t only brush shoulders, they collaborate. It’s a place where group projects are strategized, papers are written and stories are shared. It’s a place where some have even encountered love (and not only for the latest software programs).

Defying expectations
To Temple’s leadership, now celebrating the center’s 10th anniversary, the TECH symbolizes another thing: A $16 million venture that despite technological trends at its inception has become a hallmark of the university experience.

“When the TECH Center opened, there was a lot of nervousness,” said Barbara Dolhansky, interim vice president for computer services and chief information officer. “The team was concerned that students were not going to show up.”

At the time, technology was taking a turn for the personal: The proliferation of laptops and mobile devices was making a case against the need for large-scale computer labs in higher education (the first iPhone would debut in 2007, the year after the center’s opening). “It really wasn’t that popular to be building computer labs at that time,” Dolhansky noted.

But Temple administrators were enamored by the idea of creating an innovative and unprecedented hub of technology and proceeded with their vision. In January 2006, the university opened the doors of the 75,000-square-foot TECH Center inside the Bell Building, which previously housed Bell Atlantic operations, at 12th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

A decade later, the 700-computer center remains among the largest in the nation and boasts more than 10 million visits. About 100 outside colleges and organizations have visited the TECH Center for tours. And in a sign of its wild popularity, administrators say their only regret is that it isn’t bigger.

Something (or someone) for everyone
The center’s breakout rooms, 24-hour help desk and specialized features (including video production rooms, recording tools and 3-D printers) have helped turn the facility into a go-to work studio for all disciplines.

Adrian Paun, SMC ’15, reflecting on the first time he visited the TECH Center in 2011, remembered how large the center seemed. “I found a quiet place in the graphics lab and that’s where I got settled,” he said. “The TECH Center offers students a lot of resources they can't find anywhere else, all in one place.”

Colleen Kirk, SMC ’09, and Joe Yurkanin, FOX ’09, found something else: each other.

The two former student workers said they spent far more hours at the TECH Center than the ones required by their shifts. They became good friends and began dating after they graduated. Neither could imagine their lives at Temple without the TECH Center, though both arrived at the university before its debut.

“It took me a long time to remember what there was before this. It was a place to work but it was so much more than that. It was a place to meet people and hang out,” Yurkanin said, calling his part-time gig the “best campus job ever.”

We have “lots of great memories and people we met—people we still keep in touch with 10 years later,” he added.

Last June, Yurkanin and Kirk married. A mutual friend officiated the ceremony. He too worked at the TECH.