PC Magazine: UI the No. 1 'wired' campus in the country

PC Magazine: UI the No. 1 'wired' campus in the country

URBANA – The University of Illinois is the No. 1 "wired" college in the country, and that honor isn't just for Mountain Dew consumption.

The Princeton Review, in the latest edition of "PC Magazine," rates the Urbana-Champaign campus as the best in the country for computer students and others in terms of service, academics and availability.

Last year, the UI was ranked sixth. The most wired of 2006-07, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fell to 20th in the current ranking.

"No. 1 UIUC goes deep with courses on parallel computing and even data mining," the report says.

That's no surprise to the campus' chief information officer, Associate Provost Sally Jackson, the proud holder of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in speech communication at Illinois.

"The technological richness of this university has always been a big part of my Illinois experience. It's wonderful to have that recognized," Jackson said.

Erik Rhey, a senior editor at PC Magazine, said more schools were included in this year's ranking than in previous years. The ranking is based on weighted questions in surveys sent to students.

"In particular regard to Illinois, it was highly ranked because it looks at resources that are afforded to each student, not just academics," Rhey said. "The survey is ideally designed to give parents and students who are looking to go to a high tech school an idea about the environment there. It's just as popular with alumni."

Jackson said "a combination of real expertise in academics plus the richness of the support we provide" helped the school's ranking. She noted that the campus will soon have the Blue Waters supercomputer, the first and only petascale supercomputer at any U.S. university.

The "PC Magazine" article did quibble with the offerings at Illinois. "UIUC, for example, offers only an FAQ and 24-hour live telephone support, in addition to some Web-based diagnostic tools," the article said. "But Kansas State has that as well as live online support and even remote diagnostics with live help on the other end. It's not staffed 24/7, but that extra support is a plus."

Rhey said extra support has helped some relatively small, lesser-known schools hang with Illinois in the ranking.

"The total environment is key," he said.

Jackson said she expected Illinois to stay atop the ranks.

"Illinois is constantly at the front edge of technological innovation. It's not just the academic excellence; it's the environment, the community, the entire package," she said. "It attracts exactly the kinds of students who can benefit most from this place."