UI phone switch 'very successful' despite issues

URBANA — Amid grumbling about dropped calls and dysfunctional phone transfers, the University of Illinois made the formal switch to a new computer-based phone service last week.

The campus converted about 10,600 numbers from the old land-line system to the new voice-over-Internet phone service that's part of the $4.8 million Unified Communications system.

Urbana teacher to network in Ireland

URBANA — She was trained to be a band teacher, but Erin Lodes has expanded into teaching students about how to use and learn with technology.

Lodes, who became an Apple Distinguished Educator last year, will travel to Cork, Ireland, this summer to attend an institute with other teachers who have earned that distinction.

Campus Middle School for Girls hosts science and engineering camp

URBANA — Campus Middle School for Girls, in collaboration with women science and engineering faculty at the University of Illinois, is hosting a summer camp for exploring science and engineering.

The camp is scheduled from July 30 until Aug. 3. It will provide hands-on interactive activities for girls entering fifth, sixth and seventh grades in the fall.

Sign-ups begin for Big Broadband

CHAMPAIGN — Door-to-door sign-ups for the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband system got under way this week in neighborhoods just north of the Beckman Institute.

The sign-ups will give residents access to ultra-high-speed Internet service for as little as $19.99 a month, said Teri Legner, interim coordinator for the broadband consortium. Service is expected to be available July 9.

Open Prairie strengthens ties with Michigan fund

EFFINGHAM — Effingham-based Open Prairie Ventures is increasing its ties with a venture fund based in southwest Michigan.

Under the new arrangement, Open Prairie Ventures will assume a management/advisory role for the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund.

Ameren wants comment on high-voltage line

A roundup of business news:

Ameren seeks comment on proposed line

CHAMPAIGN — Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois has scheduled an open house Tuesday in Champaign for area residents to learn more about routing for a high-voltage transmission line.

Volition parent reports loss despite downsizing

CHAMPAIGN — Volition's parent company, THQ Inc., reduced the number of its video-game development studios from 11 to five and eliminated 370 jobs in a restructuring earlier this year, the company said in its annual report this week.

That reduced THQ's workforce, as of March 31, to 1,088 employees, with at least 402 of those employed outside the United States, the report said.

Yahoo adds jobs at UI Research Park

CHAMPAIGN — Yahoo's office in the University of Illinois Research Park is adding 15 new software engineering jobs, park director Laura Frerichs said Wednesday.

The expansion comes just two months after Yahoo announced it would cut 2,000 jobs worldwide, or roughly 14 percent of its staff.

Minority firm wins contract for UC2B work

CHAMPAIGN — After putting forward an "alternative" bidding process, city officials and community members are hoping that a $1.6 million contract with a minority-owned firm will open up more job opportunities for the city's underserved neighborhoods.

And the company's owner says he knows how important the job is.

UI in final stages of change in communication

URBANA — Someday soon, probably this month, most of the telephones you're accustomed to seeing on office desks will disappear from the University of Illinois campus.

The UI is in the final stages of a sweeping change in the way employees communicate — or more precisely, in the technology they use to send email or talk on the phone.