A great education is more than excellent academics. From CEO of a global company to public servant and philanthropist, Sam Di Piazza turned the lessons he learned at The University of Alabama into a life of extraordinary service and leadership.
Three UA students will receive the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship for 2020-2022.
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Nasir Eisty, a doctoral candidate in the computer science department at The University of Alabama, has been selected as a 2020 Better Scientific Software Fellow. “Being a software engineering researcher…
Demarcus Joiner, a junior civil engineering major from Roanoke, Alabama, was elected SGA president for the 2020-21 term.
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Two University of Alabama College of Engineering students are among the nation’s top 20 science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, students in their 20s.
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The University of Alabama is honoring faculty members for their research and creative contributions.
Two University of Alabama faculty members will receive Fulbright Scholar Grants for the upcoming year.
Four professors at The University of Alabama this academic year received national recognition early in their careers for leading-edge research that will advance knowledge and enhance the educational experience.
Dr. Jordan Larson, assistant professor in The University of Alabama’s aerospace engineering and mechanics department, was recently recognized by the Institute of Navigation, or ION, for his research efforts. The…
The International Society for Optics and Photonics, or SPIE, has recognized a member of The University of Alabama’s engineering faculty as one of the 13 Rising Researchers in the 2020…
An engineering faculty member at The University of Alabama is being recognized for his achievements as a young researcher. Dr. Jason Bara, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, was…
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A professor in the College of Engineering has been recognized by an international organization for his extensive research on Wi-Fi standardization. Dr. Yang Xiao, a professor in The University of…
Cris Porter, College of Engineering director of technology services, was a major asset for engineering faculty, staff and students as the College transitioned to distance learning and working. Learn more about him in this Q&A.
CE: What do you do as director of technology services? How big is your team?
Porter: Technology services involves supporting all the hardware and software needs for all College of Engineering faculty, staff and students. In addition, we operate The Cube, the College’s additive manufacturing — 3D printing — space. Our team consists of myself, three system administrators/desktop support specialists and a 3D printing specialist who manages The Cube. We also employ student workers to assist other students when they need help with 3D printing or installing software needed for classes.
CE: How does your job support the College of Engineering faculty, staff and students? Why is your job important to keeping the College successful?
Porter: The College of Engineering relies heavily on technology both in research and in the classroom. In addition to maintaining faculty and staff office computers, we also support high-performance computing for research and help students install engineering software on their personal laptops. My department is involved in the complete life cycle of technology, from sourcing new equipment and installing new operating systems and applications to maintaining and troubleshooting over 2,000 computers throughout the College.
CE: What is something you wish people knew about technology services and/or the UA College of Engineering?
Porter: The College of Engineering technology services department is available to assist our users regardless of their location. I have assisted students who were in Japan and Kuwait and faculty members traveling in Europe and doing research in Antarctica. So, users across town or across the country shouldn’t hesitate to contact us.
CE: What did you have to do to facilitate distance learning in the College of Engineering? How did it go?
Porter: We were lucky in that we were already moving in the right direction before the pandemic and the move to limited business operations and distance learning. As a College, we transitioned from campus computer labs to a BYOD — bring your own device — model over the last three years. So, students were already using their own laptops instead of relying on PCs [personal computers] on campus. We also invested in remote support tools last year that enable us to install software remotely and allow us to log onto users’ PCs remotely so we can assist them.
CE: What was most challenging in the transition to distance learning?
Porter: Technically, the biggest challenge was introducing a lot of users to VPNs [virtual private networks], remote desktop connections, Zoom and other tools for working remotely. Everyone in my department had been using these tools for years, so we took them for granted, but I think a lot of people were surprised to find out how much could be done remotely.
CE: What did you learn from this experience?
Porter: I learned that we have a capable team in place to handle the variety of issues that come up. Jordan McGee, Dennis Rath and Ben Hurst have resolved hundreds of support requests over the past months, and Sam Andrus has led a group of volunteers across campus to print, assemble, and deliver over 3,500 face shields to health care professionals and first responders across West Alabama.