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West Nottinghamshire College Group is one of the most prominent colleges in the country and a huge asset to the communities it serves.

Each year the college provides education and training to more than 13,000 full and part-time students across all major industry sectors, and from pre-GCSE to university levels. This includes employer-driven and community-led courses, making its provision fully inclusive and relevant to the whole of the local area and beyond.

Its on-campus provision primarily serves the needs of Mansfield, Ashfield and surrounding towns and villages across the borders between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

It also has a more recent history of providing employer-related training and apprenticeships to some of the largest employers in the country.

The challenge

Scott Marshall is both a Lecturer and Programme Area Leader for Computer Science at the college, and with his team of 8 colleagues, he teaches around 160 students aged 16 and above.

“To be a front runner in this field it is imperative that we offer students modern equipment,” he said. “Our old PCs had just 8GB of RAM with Intel® Core ™ i5 processors – which although are minimum requirements, were third generation, so not ideal for our teaching purposes.”

The equipment needed to be able to do various jobs – the hardware was all about virtualisation, while PCs needed to be able to multitask and divide up the processor – all important elements for student learning.

However, the lack of RAM meant applications filled up quickly and so caused PCs to stop functioning, freeze up or simply run far too slowly.

Naturally, this was frustrating for both Scott and his team who were constantly troubleshooting issues, and for students, who found themselves restricted to what tasks they could do, or, had to ask for more time to be allocated to certain tasks.

And so, the college recognised the need for more modern equipment.

The solution

The college identified the need for 44 high-end gaming workstations, and Colin Gilbert, Head of Service for IT & Learning Resources was responsible for managing the tender process.

“We have worked with Stone Group for around ten years,” he said. “We are frequently purchasing something from their extensive product range, such as laptops, hard drives, memory or ancillaries and this latest request went through a comprehensive tendering process.”

With over 25 years working in the further education sector and as a strategic hardware partner for 35% of UK FE colleges, Stone successfully won the contract for this exciting project.

  • Stone’s gaming range with 9th Generation Intel® Core™ K-Series processors effectively combine intelligent features including Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel® Smart Cache and immersive UHD Graphics which support high-end image quality and crystal-clear display. The workstations offer a level of power beyond standard desktop PCs and unparalleled levels of performance.

    Colin said: “Stone’s successful bid was not just based on its competitive pricing; we also took into account the ease in which we could integrate the products onto our network and the after-sales support Stone could provide. Stone were able to develop bespoke workstations that suited the needs of Scott and his team and we also liked the fact that the components in the PCs were named brands, such as Samsung. This fact alone made the bid very competitive.”

    Stone’s expert technical staff built the necessary architecture into the workstations according to the demanding spec required by the college and the order was delivered within 10 working days of receipt.

    Colin said: “There was no need for a test or pilot. We imaged the PCs ourselves and it was pretty much plain sailing from start to finish. We also have peace of mind thanks to Stone’s three-year warranty which means should there ever be a hardware issue, Stone engineers will be on-site the next day to resolve the problem.”

The result

Now computer science and gaming students at West Nottinghamshire College are working on some of the highest spec equipment available, enhancing their learning experiences and helping prepare the next generation workforce.

“We teach a mix of computer science, level one to four technical pathways, games development, virtualisation and networking – some of which is quite intense,” said Scott. “It’s vital our students can work with the latest equipment.”

“The Stone gaming workstations allow students to build the games in unity and deal with large graphics, applications and images. They can virtualise, make multiple PCs inside one and have them all networked together.

“We can also now use augmented and virtual reality, and the workstations are working at full speed and taking all that is asked of them in their stride.”

“Our students and our team have really noticed the difference and the frustration around slow machines or machines freezing is a thing of the past. Everyone is very happy to have this level of tech which will enhance the College’s standing and reputation in the field of computer science and gaming.”

Stone’s competitively priced gaming workstations allows our students to work on state of the art PCs and ensures they are employment ready.

Stone always provide a named contact and it’s really useful to be able to go to one person with all our queries and requests.

Stone was able to develop bespoke gaming workstations to suit our requirements and so we didn’t have to purchase standard ‘off the shelf’ products.

Colin Gilbert, Head of Service for IT & Learning Resources

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