Couch To Campus: Information Technology To The Rescue!

Mary Fitzpatrick
Closeup of a person working with two laptops.

Welcome to the Olin IT (Information Technology) department!  

Sure, we live in the basement of Milas Hall, but having our own team suite makes up for the lack of sunlight! We feel very fortunate to have a suite where all members of our team (network engineers, software system admins, linux admins, database admins, web admins, programmers, and our helpdesk support team) all get to work together in a very interactive environment. Our suite has a walkup support window that is staffed by students and staff, so we really are a go-to location for community members as well as visitors to campus. If we can’t answer your question, we generally can refer you to someone on campus who can help. We hope you see us as a great community partner, as that is how we see ourselves.

Our student helpdesk staff are a great resource for our entire community. They provide such a good perspective on the student experience and help us determine what students find most important in our support environment. They also serve as a primary resource for any students coming to the helpdesk for assistance. Be sure to consider student employment as part of your experience at Olin. There are lots of terrific employment opportunities for students everywhere on our campus. 

Student workers staffing the IT (Information Technology) helpdesk.

Abby and Audrey ready and willing to help our community at the helpdesk!

Of course, this year has presented us with many new challenges. In March, we quickly pivoted and began our journey working and learning from home. We spent the better part of March getting our users (faculty, staff and students) set up for remote work and ensuring they had the tools necessary to finish out the spring semester. While we have sometimes struggled to get everything right, we see some real progress in this new environment. Many of our users are learning new skills, refining current skills and finding great new ways to use technology. We are utilizing remote tools to connect with users in their homes. Our student workers continue to help us from their homes by testing new software and helping to keep our wiki and documentation up to date. We even had to learn how to provide international laptop shipping for our international students, now that the semester has come to a close! We all have a greater appreciation for some of our college licensed applications, like Microsoft Teams, that have allowed us to collaborate and stay connected! We even created a “water cooler” channel on Microsoft Teams to help the community chat about interesting things happening in their lives now that we’re missing out on our daily office conversations.    

A big part of our summer is prepping accounts and hardware for our incoming students, which always adds a bit of excitement to our summer project list. Our student laptop program helps us provide every student with a consistent classroom experience: Olin students purchase a laptop through the college, which comes with full four-year support and warranty that is provided on site through our helpdesk team. We order parts, manage repairs, and provide support for installing necessary engineering applications and tools. Our helpdesk manager Mike P and technician Mike G have been hard at work ensuring we have a great laptop ready for our first years. You also need to meet our network engineer Mike H, who makes sure that our Wi-Fi is always up and running! Did I mention that we love to hire Mikes?      

Distributing laptops to students is always a highlight of the start of a new semester. We get to meet all the first-years as they fire up their systems and get themselves connected at Olin. First-years come together in The Nord (our auditorium in Milas Hall) and open boxes and connect accounts while our student and helpdesk staff are close by to address any concerns.

A student organizing boxes of laptops on the floor of Olin's Norden Auditorium.

Here is Paige, out student worker, getting all those boxes lined up and ready to distribute! 

What will this process look like in September 2020?!

The author.

Mary Fitzpatrick is the Information Technology Customer Service Manager at Olin College of Engineering.

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