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Winter 2002

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Well connected

     Back when he was a freshman, says Michael Gittelman ’02, “I waited a month to get my computer hooked into the network.”

From his dorm room, Mike Gittelman ’02 coordinates computer networking in all of Skidmore’s residence halls.

     Like all good problem-solvers, he decided to become part of the solution. The following year, Gittelman joined ResNet, the campus residence-hall network that provides high-speed connections linking all residence hall rooms with campus network services (Scribner Library’s online catalog, campus news groups, and instructional software), e-mail, and the World Wide Web. Since last year, the network connection has been free to Skidmore students, the vast majority of whom bring their own computers to campus.

     “ResNet isn’t a place,” says Gittelman, who as ResNet administrator now manages a team of ten resident computing consultants (RCCs), the front-line support system for residential network connections. “You can’t go to ResNet. We come to you.” Indeed: even a midnight house call is not out of the question.

     The bulk of the team’s work comes in September, when new students need to get their laptops and PCs connected, and there is a second wave at the beginning of spring semester for new and returning students. After that the team focuses more on the public computers around campus, troubleshooting hardware and software problems.

     Gittelman’s responsibilities include hiring RCCs, coordinating assignments, training, and liaison with the college’s telecommunications office. Training is a big challenge, he says, since “we’re not a technical school. We keep up on technology, but we don’t tend to have students who are technically minded.” A few RCCs are computer science majors, but others are majoring in art, music, or, like Gittelman, business. Regardless of major, all new RCC recruits are put through a two-day ResNet “boot camp” in late August.

     Not surprisingly, ResNet’s operations (almost completely student-run) are organized over the network. Gittelman communicates with his team via e-mail, routing service requests including those forwarded by the central “help desk” run by Skidmore’s information-technology services staff. “They don’t go to student rooms,” Gittelman says, “but we do. We’re responsible for student machines.” And, he adds, “Students are extremely grateful for our help. Most are very accommodating.”

     As well they should be. ResNet quietly and efficiently makes sure everyone gets connected and stays connected. Success is perhaps best measured by the system’s lack of problems. “If we’re doing our jobs right,” says Gittelman, “people don’t know we exist.” —KG


© 2001 Skidmore College