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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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New campus service gives students powerful data processing

It's free to students, and saves money for the university

Complex, high-end software now available free.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office news release [2/24/2011]


A powerful new virtual computing service at Minnesota State University, Mankato lets students use complex, high-end software on their laptops at no cost to them – while saving money for the university.

The “virtual computer lab” technology – termed MavAPPS – lets students access specialized software from anywhere in the world, without having to purchase it. And because university servers process the data, students don’t need expensive computers to perform the complex applications.

“It saves the students significant money, while letting them work on complex homework projects whenever and wherever it’s convenient,” said Wayne Sharp, director of academic classroom technology support at Minnesota State Mankato.

It also means that the university needn’t purchase multiple copies of expensive, cutting-edge software each year and install it on hundreds of campus computers.

“Previously, this software would be found only on select computers in the university’s Academic Computer Center, and students would be able to use it only when the center was open,” Sharp said.

Specialized software suites available to students through MavAPPS include:

  • SPSS (an IBM statistics software for comprehensive data mining);
  • Adobe Framemaker (a template-based authoring and publishing tool);
  • Adobe RoboHelp (a tool that lets technical communicators write, collaborate on, personalize and optimize content);
  • Maple (math and engineering modeling software);
  • Mathematica (computational software for science, engineering and math); and
  • ArcGIS (geographic data for decision-making).

Adobe Technical Communications Suite 3.0 will be added soon, Sharp said.

The list of Minnesota State Mankato professors who have made MavAPPS part of their classes grows each week.

Technical communications faculty member Lee Tesdell asks students in two online courses to use MavAPPs to access specialized software. It’s especially useful, he says, because online students no longer need to sign up for 30-day software trials – they can use the software whenever they want, free, as long as they’re students.

Adobe RoboHelp, for example, is an industry standard used by technical writers to create software documentation. Through MavAPPS, Tesdell’s online technical communication students – who live in many parts of the country –  use RoboHelp from their home computers.

Geography students are using MavAPPS to successfully complete ArcGIS assignments – a system that lets managers make informed decisions based on computer models that use precise geographic information.

Academic Computer Center staff members even run MavAPPS projects through their smart phones, Sharp says, which means students soon will be using hand-held devices to perform complex computations on big MavAPPS servers.

“It’s a marvelous technological improvement,” Sharp added.

More information about MavAPPS is at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive, doctoral university with 15,393 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system.

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