Programmed remotes help students open campus doors

Several of the doors on campus are opening without anyone touching them. But, this isn’t magic; it’s due to remote controls.

Recently, the Physical Plant programmed handicap-accessible doors in high traffic areas to open with remote controls.

These remotes will go to the students who are wheelchair-bound or otherwise have physical trouble with opening the doors.

Bob Harrington, director of the Physical Plant, said the project was simple, but useful.

“We try to do whatever we can to help the students,” he said.

Harrington said the project was brought to him through Dr. Melissa Locher, coordinator for disability services.

She said a student in a wheelchair had brought the idea to her attention.

“The student suggested it because of their personal experience with having to roll up to the door, push the button, back up, wait for the door to open and then roll in,” Locher said. “When the weather is not pleasant this can mean a fair amount of time waiting for the door to open.”

The idea was then forwarded to Harrington, who thought the doors could be opened with a universal remote. The handicap-accessible doors had been pre-wired by the manufacturer to open via remote control. However, the universal remote did not contain enough programmable information to allow for the doors to be opened.

“If we couldn’t have found a way to remote it, we couldn’t have done it,” he said.

The remotes for the doors were located through the manufacturer itself. Both the doors and the remotes had to be programmed to sync together. Four remotes were purchased in all and the project was completed within a few weeks time.

The remotes also had to be programmed so not every door would open when the button was pressed.

“The remotes were strong enough, they would open all doors around them,” he said.

Harrington and Locher said the remotes have helped students already.

“For the students that need it, they are very appreciative and it makes us happy to help them,” Harrington said.

There are remote-access doors in every building on campus, but only those doors, which are most commonly used are programmed for the remotes.

Locher said she would like to thank the Physical Plant for its efforts.

“[The] Physical Plant personnel are the unsung heros of this campus,” she said. “They did not assist with this project: they are the total reason that it came to fruition.”

Harrington said the Physical Plant has also helped disabled students in the past by building bridges and walkways for easier access from off campus to on campus and fixing sidewalks to keep them from becoming too rough.