University of Maryland Baltimore County


The Propeller team has spent most of their careers focused on how to make technology work for students and universities, rather than making them work for the technology. They believe technology should never get in the way of life, learning, or accomplishment. The ability for a student to work, interact with campus activities, and learning goes well beyond the boundaries of a traditional campus. Learn how the University of Maryland, Baltimore County deployed the Propeller platform in approximately 2.5 weeks to provide access for all during a difficult time.




undergraduate students


graduate students

The challenge

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, schools everywhere had to find a way to support their students without diminishing their potential for learning. Early on, UMBC knew they needed a solution that would reach students where they were. But the pandemic forced them to make this transition to virtual learning faster than expected. As the pandemic quickly shut things down, UMBC’s teachers and students still needed to access the memory-intensive data applications they were using in computer labs, but at home. They faced many daunting challenges, including:

  • Most students working on Chromebooks or other devices did not have a system
    advanced enough to support their entire curriculum
  • Curriculum requirements had to be fulfilled entirely from homes all over the country
  • No access to any physical computer labs
  • Conducting data-intensive classes like chemical engineering and geography

Our solution

Propeller was able to offer UMBC a solution that gave students virtual access to their usual computer labs, anytime and anywhere. We began by understanding all the applications that students needed to use from home, just as they faced the uncertainty of the pandemic. We then worked on addressing the school’s need for flexibility — the solution had to be both economically viable and face minimal pushback from the academic side.


Our cloud-based solution allowed for high-compute, high-process, and memory-intensive applications to run on the students’ Chromebooks or other devices. Before, students studying Chemical Engineering or Geography had been tethered to their labs. But we made it possible for them to get back to their regular work within just 2.5 weeks of the lockdown. The results:


  • Courses remained in session after the COVID shutdown
  • Tailoring the solution to class schedules helped reduce costs
  • By using the cloud, accommodations could be changed and feedback taken at any time
  • Operations could be scaled based on the number of students
  • Relying on a physical lab was no longer needed

Frequent questions

Need more? We’re here to help.
Please visit our our knowledge base

Think of this as a “laptop in the cloud.” Propeller’s Virtual Desktop is a high-powered, fully managed workspace that can handle resource-intensive applications on any device.


The Virtual Desktop gives students an environment for completing assignments and lab work outside of the classroom. Students can access their desktop through most browsers on any device, saving the costs of software and hardware upgrades.

The main difference is whether the user gets the same virtual machine every time they log in to the environment.


A persistent machine can be assigned to a student, faculty or staff for any duration you specify at your school — a semester, program or ongoing.


With non-persistent machines, users get a new virtual machine every time. This ensures that every student and every log-in provides the same end user experience. Students can still save their work using your school’s cloud storage solution, such as Google Drive or OneDrive.

Learning Lab is a persistent environment created to run labs and simulations exactly as your faculty envisions. Since each student has an individual lab, they gain hands-on experience without straining campus faculty or IT departments — if something goes wrong, the student can just restart and everything resets. 

Learning Labs are secure, isolated, and scalable, making them great for:

  • Demanding, resource-intensive labs
  • Networking simulations
  • Cybersecurity Courses
  • Programming
  • Digital forensics
  • And much more

We’d be thrilled to have you join the Propeller family! We can quickly move you from the Proof of Concept to a full campus deployment, with minimal effort on your end. Your client success manager works with you to meet your timeline and plan your rollout.

Think of this as the “easy button” to get started with virtual desktop in less than four weeks!


During this time, the Propeller team works with you to gather the requirements, build, test, and put your new environment into production. At the end of the Jump Start, your school’s team will have the knowledge, skills and confidence to take over and continue managing your virtual environment.

Time to make a difference

Let’s make education better and help students achieve their full potential