Computer Services lab staff consists of approximately 120 student
workers who work in the labs, monitor equipment and provide first
level user support to the student users.
Lab Monitors (also called Lab Attendants) are our entry level
employees. The skill level of these workers varies greatly with the
individual. Some may have no computer knowledge at all while others
may be very familiar with all or at least some of the application
The next level of employee is the Lab Manager. These students have
demonstrated competence with all or most of the software provided
in the student labs. In addition, they can also perform some simple
network management functions such as clearing print queues (both on
the network system and the queues for CMS) and re-starting print
servers. There is usually only one lab manager on duty to monitor
ALL of our labs.
Lab Monitors may refer users to the Lab Manager should the Lab
Monitor be unable to help the user. Lab Managers are also
responsible for primary training of newly hired Lab Monitors.
Workers must be employed in the labs for at least one year to be
eligible for a Lab Manager position and must demonstrate
reliability and reasonable technical proficiency.
Computer Services also employs four graduate assistants. One of
these people is responsible for being available at night and on
weekends to tend to any emergencies that might arise that are
beyond the Lab Manager's abilities to deal with. This person also
offers regular workshops for students who wish more detailed
information on how to apply computers to their class projects and
papers. These workshops are available to any student free of
charge. Students may enroll in one or all of the workshops by
contacting the lab manager on duty in D.P. Culp (x8211). Other
graduate assistants work in areas of technical research, equipment
maintenance, and user support.
In terms of full time university staff, the Assistant Manager of
User Services directly manages both the staff and equipment in the
labs, schedules and hires workers, administers the lab network
system etc. Questions or problems with lab equipment, software etc.
should be routed directly to that person (x4492).
General Lab Operating Procedures
For instructors who will deal with labs on a regular basis it is
often helpful to have an idea of the basic operating procedures
used to manage the various facilities. With 120 workers, multiple
locations, shifts that include working most nights until 2am and
staying open weekends and most holiday breaks the task of managing
workers is a formidable one. Add to this the technical problems of
keeping complex hardware functioning in an extremely harsh
environment and the need for centralized management becomes clear.
Workers are normally scheduled at the beginning of each term.
Scheduling their work hours must take into account their individual
class schedules as well as other jobs and commuting problems for
some students. It is usually not possible to have a complete staff
the first day of a term, so it is unavoidable that there will be
limited lab hours the first few weeks.
Once a student is scheduled he or she will usually keep those
shifts for the entire term. There are times, however, where a
student will change classes or even drop out of school. In these
cases, rescheduling is done. The task of trying to shuffle
schedules on a moment's notice can at times be impossible. There
are times (albeit few) when it is not possible to maintain regular
open hours for a lab because of a lack of student workers. In these
cases, students should contact our Lab Manager in D.P. Culp (x8211)
and ask what other labs are available for use.
Holidays and Breaks
During breaks (i.e. Thanksgiving, Spring Break etc.) special
schedules are done because so many students are out of town during
those times and are not available to work their regular shifts.
Computer Services makes every effort to have as much lab access
available during those times as possible. It is an excellent
opportunity for students to catch up on work or get ahead on
It is usually not possible to keep every lab open during these
periods or to stay open until the normal 2am time. Hours for the
breaks are posted on the doors and inside each lab. Normally these
are also posted on the lab network itself and are displayed when
each machine is booted. Posting is done about a week in advance.
Advertising on the Lab Network
From time to time other things may be advertised on the network
system. Such things as Computer Services workshops, special
schedules or events and regular lab open hours are normally
advertised in this manner. Please contact User Services if you have
an item you would like advertised. Items should be computer related
and will not be posted for more than one week.
Electronic Lab Worker System
Due to the hours workers work and the number of locations involved
an electronic management system has been created to aid both
Computer Services and its workers in the common tasks associated
with the labs. This system gives student workers access to open
hours, class schedules for labs, worker schedules and other
information. This system is also used to record hours worked by
each student for payroll purposes.
Integration with the campus PC maintenance system is available to
student lab workers through this system. Out of order machines are
reported electronically in this manner. Student workers can also
look up the status of any lab machine submitted for repair. All out
of order equipment discovered in the labs should be reported to the
Lab Monitor on duty.
Part of the electronic system workers use contains an internal
electronic mail package which is used to keep workers and managers
in touch. Special events or instructions can be communicated to all
lab workers through this system. The system is also used to post
substitute work shifts, special schedules etc. Much interest in
this system has been expressed from other schools around the world.
The software is available to any school free of charge on our ftp
First Line of Defense
On an average day, our labs will see 10-15 classes, 20-30 shift
changes and anywhere from 50-2000 lab users spread across all our
facilities. With this much usage, problems are bound to arise. Our
Lab Managers posted in the D.P. Culp lab are equipped to deal with
common occurrences such as print queues backing up, workers who are
delayed or fail to show up for a shift, basic software questions
and simple hardware problems. In the event they cannot solve the
problem, they are instructed to turn the problem over to Computer
Services staff or the student's instructor.
Computer Services employs one worker who is responsible for
stocking paper, ribbons and common supplies in the labs and for
keeping screens and keyboards clean.
Breaks Between Semesters
During the short periods between terms the labs are usually closed.
Even though most of the student body is gone during those periods
we still get requests and complaints from students who demand lab
access at their discretion regardless of whether school is in
session or not. These short breaks are the ONLY time available for
Computer Services to perform in-depth maintenance, system upgrades
and troubleshooting on lab equipment without having to shut the
labs down during a term. For that reason we see the fact that the
labs are closed during these gaps to be necessary.
Instructors should remind students who are turning in projects late
(past the end of the term) that our facilities will not be
available during those times. Again, this will be posted along with
our re-open date on the lab doors.
Computer Services labs have the same weather policy as the rest of
the university. We understand that all of our workers may not be
able to make it in for their shifts, but we request those who can
should do so. Every effort is made to keep as many labs open as
possible, but smaller labs may have to be closed in order to staff
larger ones. On those rare occasions when classes are cancelled or
the entire university shuts down due to weather our labs are also
closed. During severe weather, you may call the D. P. Culp lab at
975-8211 for information concerning any closing of the labs.
Catastrophic System Failures
In any complex high-tech environment equipment can and does break
down. On such occasions (especially at night or on weekends) there
may not be any Computer Services staff available to correct serious
problems. The student workers and even the Lab Managers are only
equipped to handle so much and so there are occasions where any or
all of our labs will be shut down due to malfunctions. This is
usually some sort of networking problem which has the capacity to
shut down either of our file servers or the entire campus network.
Some of these problems are self-correcting due to the manner in
which the equipment is configured. Other types of failures require
personal attention from highly trained specialists. Regular system
backups and maintenance help insure that most failures are of short
duration. Students should be instructed to save work frequently
especially during storms or other circumstances where power outages