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Many I/S services will move to Building N42

Information Systems will consolidate several of its functions from Buildings 4, 11, E19 and E40 in the renovated Building N42 at 211 Massachusetts Ave. during two weeks of moves scheduled to begin later this month.

The services that will relocate are:

  • The Computing Help Desk, Athena Help and User Accounts.
  • The Academic Computing Support Team, which helps faculty members use information technology to enhance teaching and learning, and Dr. Vijay Kumar, director of Academic Computing.
  • The Integration Process, which builds and acquires new computer infrastructure and provides technical architecture and standards.
  • Campus Wide Information Systems (CWIS), which maintains the top-level MIT web pages and promotes effective use of the web and other electronic publishing tools at MIT. CWIS will continue to maintain its second location at the Publishing Services Bureau in Rm 5-133.
  • Some personnel with the Information Technology (I/T) Discovery and Delivery Processes, which develop computer technologies to meet the business needs of units within MIT.

Additionally, the IS Training and Publications Team, which offers training in various software programs, will move its hands-on training classes to Building W89--the MIT Professional Learning Center at 301 Vassar St. Team members, who also publish the i/s newsletter and a variety of computer-related documentation and Web materials, will move to Building N42.

All told, about three-quarters of the 80 full-time staff members in I/T Support (who are assisted by about 100 students) will move to Building N42.

"I really am very excited about having all those people in one place for the first time ever," said William Hogue, director of I/T Support. "It's an opportunity to establish new services in a much more cohesive way than we could before. Being spread out over five buildings sometimes makes for a logistical and administrative nightmare."

According to Dr. Hogue, other customer support locations won't be changing. The telephone operators and customer service representatives will remain on the seventh floor of Building E19, Departmental Computing Support will stay in Building E40, and the ATIC Lab will remain on the ground floor of Building 11, he said.

For some of the functions, the MIT community will be largely unaware of the relocation. "Since so much of what we do involves personal consultation, whether on the phone, in person or via e-mail, the move shouldn't cause too many changes in how we do our work," said Debby Levinson, a CWIS consultant.

Users of other services may notice the greater distance from the central campus. "Customers who were used to walking into our Building 11 location with their ailing computers, with requisitions to set up the Tether service, to pick up UNIX/VMS software from the software librarian or just to talk with someone directly will now find our services in Building N42," said Barbara Goguen, the Computing Help Desk team leader.

Because of the move, the Help Desk will offer only limited service on January 23 and 26.

For Athena Residential Computing Consulting (moving from Building 4), the less central location may likewise result in fewer walk-in customers, though phone and on-line help will be available as before, said team leader Carla Fermann.

Users who want to reset a forgotten Athena or Eudora password may have a little farther to walk, because users must present themselves in person with a photo ID for that service, Ms. Fermann said. But her group's work will be made easier by their new proximity to the Computing Help Desk, she added.

Some of the Training and Publications classes that had been scheduled for two half-day sessions will be taught on one full day to save people from having to make two trips to Building W89, which has seven classrooms. Athena mini-courses will still be taught in Rm 3-343 and noontime Quick Start classes and user group meetings will continue to be held in Rm E40-302, but will begin to be offered in both E40 and N42 sometime later in the winter.

Open Lab sessions, previously held on Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons in Rm 11-206, have been discontinued. IS is working with the MIT Libraries to make materials available for loan, but details have not yet been worked out. Private tutorials, courses for individual departments and off-site referrals can still be arranged by contacting Training Services at x3-7685.

Academic Computing Support facilities moving to Building N42 include the Athena test cluster, where faculty members and their staff can work on Athena platforms that may not be available in their own offices, and the Faculty Project Lab, one of the sites of the New Media Centers at MIT that contain high-end scanners, video digitizers and software for producing multimedia Web pages and presentations.

"We'll continue to provide e-mail, telephone and walk-in assistance to faculty, TAs and other instructional staff who want assistance in incorporating instructional technology into MIT classes," said Dr. Naomi Schmidt, manager for educational planning and support. There will also be a demo center in the new location which will be similar in function to the IS visitor center in Building E40. Team members hope to host a session of Crosstalk early in the spring to introduce faculty to the new quarters.

I/T team leaders look forward to a more physically unified Information Systems. "What we're gaining is much better ties within IS, particularly the Help Desk," said Robert Ferrara, director of I/T Delivery, whose staff is moving from Building E19.

"Having many different perspectives represented in the same space will be very beneficial for all of us," said Greg Anderson, the I/T Discovery director. "It'll be one way to build new relationships within our organization."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 14, 1998.

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