The School of Engineering in 2014 was the among first at UAB to require undergraduate students to use laptops for their coursework, but they needed a way to get engineering students access to licensed software for the program

This path led them first to a local solution but eventually to UAB Anywhere, UAB IT's virtual infrastructure.

Screen capture of the UAB Anywhere home window on a white desktop.

“Students were asking for other methods of getting access to engineering software, but without having to physically come to an on-campus computer lab,” said Tommy Foley, director of information technology for the School of Engineering. “We had software that we paid for and used in course instruction, but software licensing restrictions did not allow us to provide the software to install on our students personally owned computers.”

So the school established a virtual computer lab to provide each student a virtual desktop where they could access the software.

When the virtual lab needed a technology refresh in 2019, the school turned to UAB IT, which had a larger virtual infrastructure as well as a team of support staff.

“Everything worked very well and our students had access to greater compute resources than were previously available,” Foley said. “This solution continued to serve us well and through the remote teaching period of COVID.”

So when UAB IT introduced its UAB Anywhere tool — a free cloud-based solution that provides virtual desktops, labs and software access — it was a natural transition.

UABAnywhere is a Citrix Cloud virtual desktop solution, allowing you to access a virtual user desktop in a virtual environment. That means when you don’t have access to a classroom, lab or office computer, you can still connect to it from another machine and have access to the same software and programs.

For example: Your department at UAB may offer a certain software you need to complete schoolwork, but your home computer is too old to use the software. With UABAnywhere, you can connect to a virtual desktop and use the software anyway.

Or, you may need to access a computer lab or library computer, but you aren’t on campus. UABAnywhere gives you a “seat” in the lab.

UABAnywhere can help resolve issues of specific software licensing and device requirements for software to function. The virtual desktop solution also does not require access through a VPN connection.

By connecting to a virtual desktop through UABAnywhere, users will have access to what they need to succeed, no matter where they are or what machine they are using.

For the School of Engineering, UABAnywhere continues to be a success, Foley said.

“Moving to the cloud-based solution really helped resolve some outstanding issues we had with our students who have Mac computers, but we found in most cases the applications we publish for our students perform much better and open quicker,” Foley said. “I think the partnership with UAB School of Engineering and UAB IT has benefited both of us with respect to information technology, but primarily providing our students with better remote capability to use the Engineering software we teach with.”

Visit go.uab.edu/uabanywhere to get details on how to connect and how to request a virtual desktop.