Berea College Depends On MINUTEMAN UPS To Keep Students Advancing

Communications systems and technology infrastructures must be robust, reliable and flexible. The reliance on technology, from the classroom to the president's office, means that IT departments are charged with keeping a vast network operating smoothly in an increasingly competitive environment. A college with a reputation for lagging behind other schools in technology, be it the latest gear or reliability, can find itself at a significant disadvantage when recruiting and retaining students.

A hiccup in the power at Kentucky's renowned Berea College led their team to install advanced Enterprise™ devices from MINUTEMAN UPS to provide clean, uninterrupted power supplies and network management / control for all of the systems and computers across the impressive campus. MINUTEMAN UPS products were built into the network infrastructure, solving a growing problem for the school.

A Jewel in the Bluegrass
Berea College is located 35 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky, in the picturesque Cumberland Mountains. U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly named Berea the top regional college in the South. The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of London and ABC World News have also focused national and international attention on many aspects of the contemporary Berea experience. One of the school's most notable alumni is John Fenn, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Others have won Fulbright, Truman, Udall and Watson fellowships.

Technology is the cornerstone of the liberal arts school. Each student receives a current model portable laptop computer, which they own upon graduation. And the school provides a full-tuition scholarship to each of its 1,500 students through an extensive work-study and career development program.

The university is tied together through a world-class infrastructure with all of the departments, dorms and offices wired for high speed Internet and Intranet communications. There are over 6500 data ports throughout the residence hall rooms, classrooms, lounges, library and other campus buildings.

Installing this network required a tremendous effort including the integration of servers, PCs, switches, routers and other equipment across the entire campus. A world-class technical support group with the latest hardware and software training supports the system.

Tragedy Strikes
In the spring of 2003, every student's worst nightmare came true during exams at the prestigious school. Instead of worrying about the proverbial dog eating the homework, students and faculty had to face a power problem that took a bite out of their education.

"Our college relies heavily on Web-CT course management software in much of our curriculum," said John Jones Director of Network Services for Berea College. "An unexpected campus-wide power outage downed all edge closet switches on campus, even though the backbone stayed up."

While some might view such an interruption as irritating at best and frustrating at worst, it was devastating to the college and students.

According to Jones, "Several classes were conducting exams using course management software which buffered answers, so students could go back and change answers before final submission. When the switches went down, students didn't have time to submit their work in progress and all exam information was lost. Though the tests were taken on laptops with battery power, the switches going down prevented the test data from being uploaded to the server."

Installing a Shield
The school's Instructional Technology Support group was determined to prevent this issue from rearing its ugly head again. They brought the critical situation to the attention of the Network Services team.

The team went to work, first by identifying the number of network closets needing protection and the power requirements for each. They contacted a consultant for vendor recommendations and met with three companies to solicit product information and bids, including Texas-based MINUTEMAN UPS.

"Our initial concern was that costs would be prohibitive since the school has over 50 wiring closets, including several with large capacity switches, which would require a UPS that could provide power for 40-45 minutes," explained Jones. "The college also had roughly 1,600 classroom network ports that needed uninterrupted power."

After completing its analysis of the situation, Network Services proposed a solution to the Campus Information Resources Committee that included Enterprise UPS units from MINUTEMAN. Upon reviewing the problem and well-crafted proposed solution, they quickly committed funds to the project.

"The MINUTEMAN UPS team was versatile and helped us determine the perfect equipment to eliminate power problems so the system never goes down, especially during exams," stated Jones. "In addition to offering advanced, yet reliable UPS systems with the extended runtime we need, their team provided the high level of support and specifying assistance that allowed us to be prepared for growth well into the future."

The school is located in an area that is prone to thunderstorms and weather anomalies during the spring and summer. Power fluctuations and failures are a common occurrence as interruptions from the local utility company can range from a few seconds to a couple of hours. As such, extended runtime and absolute reliability were important issues that had to be addressed when installing a UPS system.

Rod L. Pullen, President of MINUTEMAN UPS said, "We're proud to be a part of the Berea College experience, which provides one of the most impressive comprehensive education in the country. MINUTEMAN UPS has helped keep mission-critical corporations and organizations supplied with clean, continuous, protected electrical power for more than 20 years, and we're a longtime provider of uninterruptible power supply and network control products to this fine institution."

MINUTEMAN UPS is a worldwide provider of power protection products and services for telecommunications equipment, comm/data networks, retail point-of-sale devices and networks, sensitive electronic equipment, and security installations.

A Universal Problem
Berea College is not the only organization that faced a battle over power quality. The need for power protection is rising dramatically.

"Downtime caused by power irregularities and disruptions can lead to staggering productivity and revenue losses, as we've seen recently in California and other parts of the world," added Rick Hunteman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MINUTEMAN UPS. "Studies have shown that an unprotected microprocessor will malfunction if AC power is interrupted for even a single cycle. The system at Berea College underscores the complexities of today's global businesses, and is why a reliable UPS network is critical for success."

No More Nightmares
The Network Services group rolled up their sleeves and had a new system installed by the summer of 2004. The loss of critical information, including thoughtful exam responses has become a distant memory as Berea College now depends on its 43 MINUTEMAN Enterprise™ UPS units to protect, monitor, and control power for all of the school's network infrastructure, PCs and servers. All classroom and academic buildings can now stay online for at least 45 minutes during a power failure. And by working with the cost-conscious team at MINUTEMAN UPS, enough money was left in the budget to protect all administrative buildings as well.

"The Enterprise UPS line was specifically designed for enterprise-applications, supplying pure sinewave output during blackouts while line-interactive voltage regulation protects against sags, surges, spikes, and brownouts," explained Hunteman. "The Enterprise units, like all MINUTEMAN UPS products, has an industry leading three-year warranty. So the IT team, administrative staff, professors and students at Berea College can concentrate on learning instead of worrying about whether they will lose their data."

MINUTEMAN UPS is a manufacturer of uninterruptible power supplies and related equipment and SentryII power monitoring and diagnostic software. Corporations worldwide depend on MINUTEMAN UPS to protect, manage, and control network systems, telecommunications equipment, retail POS systems, security systems, and sensitive equipment worldwide. MINUTEMAN UPS products range from 325 VA to 10 kVA units and can be custom-configured to clients' specifications.

MINUTEMAN UPS was founded in 1982 as Para Systems, Inc. The company is a wholly-owned operating subsidiary of Components Corporation of America, a privately-held corporation. Additional information about MINUTEMAN UPS and its products is available at

About Berea College
Founded in 1855 by ardent abolitionists, Berea was the first interracial and co-educational college in the South. Still firmly rooted in its radical origins, Berea's contemporary mission is to educate students who have great promise but limited economic resources.

Because of 150 years of support from generous alumni and friends, each of their 1,500 students receives a full-tuition scholarship, a job in the College's labor program and a high quality education that allows students to realize the dignity of labor, the impact of sustainability, and the value of service.

Set on 140 beautifully landscaped acres, the central campus includes many historical buildings that showcase American architecture. The college's residential campus has 14 residence halls and nine specialty houses, plus 50 family housing apartments, accommodating about 88% of students on campus. In addition, Berea College has 7,700 acres of forest and 1,200 acres for instruction in agriculture and natural resources.

The Berea College Ecovillage student family housing complex, which includes a state-of-the-art childcare center for 120 children, models sustainable living with ecological design elements to vastly reduce energy and water usage. Additional information about the school is available at

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