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Arkansas Community College Students Help Campus Install Emergency Call Boxes

A community college in Arkansas has given a group of its students the chance to gain experience with an on-campus project to put up new emergency call boxes. The work took place at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope and saved the institution "thousands of dollars."

According to Chris Shaver, a member of the Industrial Electricity faculty, the college's campus security council pursued a goal of installing emergency call stations in strategic locations but found the devices too expensive. So Director of Telecommunications Dave Phillips did some research and found a company that sold just the emergency pushbuttons that would transmit a radio frequency to a central location without an outside power source or communication wire. Phillips asked Shaver for help in designing a circuit that would allow a flashing blue light to strobe for a set period when the button was pushed.

"We knew this circuit would require an outside power source," Shaver said. So Phillips contacted the local utility company, Hope Water & Light, and asked if the emergency beacons could be installed onto the utility's existing parking lot light poles, which already had power to them. The company agreed and also provided "the manpower" to do the power connections once the beacons were placed on the poles.

Shaver presented the project to his electrical students and asked them to design "a basic circuit using an industrial timing relay" that would make the light blink for 15 minutes when a button was pressed.

Once the design of the electrical circuit and other components was done, the students helped install four boxes, conduit, wiring, and light fixtures over the course of two days. "This job required them to make sure everything was compliant to standards set forth by the National Electric Code, as well as maintaining OSHA safety standards while working in and around aerial boom lift equipment," Shaver noted. "They also gained experience working and organizing this effort with other tradesmen such as our local utility linemen."

"When all was said and done," he added, "we saved the college thousands of dollars by building our own stations with the cooperation of our telecommunication department, industrial electricity students, campus security officers and our local utility company."

This isn't the only project Shaver's students have helped out on. Previously, his class installed a back-up generator and transfer switch for the IT department's computer servers. That effort, he said, saved the college about $20,000.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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