On January 13, LTS hosted a visit from the Northampton Area School District (NASD) High School technology club and their advisor and teacher, C.J. McHugh. Eight students visited a variety of service points in LTS and at Wilbur Powerhouse.
LTS Help Desk staffer Glenn Piper hosted the group. A veteran computing specialist with over 20 years experience in technology and education, Glenn is also a leader in the Boy Scouts, and he routinely works with middle-school through college-aged youth.
Glenn guided the students on a tour of three of four areas at Lehigh: The LTS Help Desk, the STARS (Student Technology and Repair Services) Desk, the Network Operations Center, and Wilbur Powerhouse.
The Help Desk
Students got an overview of front line support and “a day in the life” of a help desk staffer. Glenn covered the type and frequency of calls, the need for continual learning, the importance of soft skills, troubleshooting techniques -- and a few war stories. In the Q and A, students asked: what hardware and software is used? What are the daily operations like? What do computing support specialists do?
Computing Repair Services
Next they toured Computing Repair Services. In the NASD high school repair shop, only Chromebooks are serviced, so students had many questions about the staff’s technical knowledge and diversity of hardware that LTS supports. Keith Meeker, hardware repair technician, responded to one student’s question: “What’s the worst problem you’ve ever had to work on in hardware repair?” Keith’s answer included tales of the many liquids that can be spilled on or into hardware -- highlighting the surprising fact that 50% of repairs in the shop stem from accidental damage. Other questions included:
“How many repairs are going on at one time?”
“How fast can you repair a device?”
“What skills and certifications do you have?”
Keith suggested the most valuable certifications to consider, such as CompTIA A+ Certification, an entry-level exam for PC computer service technicians.
At the STARS (Student Technology and Repair Services) Desk in the Computing Center, manager Bruce Eisenhard led a lively discussion about supporting student computers, including information about how LTS backs up essential data before working on machines, reinstalls operating systems and software, and how students get to work in this area of LTS. He led students through the detailed workflow and processing of devices that are brought in for troubleshooting.
Network Operations Center
From STARS, the students then visited the Network Operations Center (NOC), where they walked through the server room under the guidance of the Manager of Infrastructure Operations, Lori Carroll. Students had questions ranging from how Lehigh connects to the internet, to how much storage and processor power is located in the data center, to how important air conditioning is in keeping the data center running.
The group then returned to the EWFM Library to have remaining questions answered, and Glenn distributed some LTS-branded souvenirs before heading to Wilbur Powerhouse for the rest of their visit.
What was learned
C.J., advisor to the students, summarized the value of the visit: “As a science and technology teacher for fourteen years, I think that there are few experiences that compare to connecting students with field experts working in their everyday setting. Our hosts from Lehigh University were highly knowledgeable, engaging, and extremely welcoming.”
Student Jon, class of 2020, observed, “I learned so much about how we can improve our own school tech team, from 3D printing to computer repair. The incredible technologies we saw at the Wilbur Powerhouse made me realize a new passion for innovation.”