Sometimes the most intimidating thing in a student’s day can be a blinking cursor.
When the screen and mind go blank and Western students get stumped by technology, the employees at the Student Technology Center offer tutorials on popular programs and enough support to get any technophobe up and running.
One member of the tech team is senior Christopher Utterback, a graphic design student who has worked at the STC since he started at Western.
“After you’ve been here a while, it’s about understanding student needs and trying to help in the best way possible,” he said.
Most employees stay around for a couple years, junior Rebecca Hsieh said. Depending on how long they’ve worked and the experience they have, employees in the STC and the Academic Technology and User Services can move from level one to four.
Utterback currently works as the STC’s senior computer assistant and moves from upstairs to downstairs, desk or backroom, collaborating on any project as he’s needed, Utterback said.
“Everyone on staff has their specializations of software they’re good at,” Utterback said. “All of us together pretty much comprise all programs that anybody at this school is going to use.”
Projects that require Adobe Photoshop or a multimedia aspect are Utterback’s favorites, since he is familiar with the technology and enjoys teaching students the finer points, he said.
It can be easy to get nerdy about the programs they teach, Utterback said. There have many times where students have been outspoken about how helpful they are for the help, Utterback said.
In one instance, a student started freaking about about losing their whole project during finals week, Utterback said.
“I thought he was going to start throwing punches,” Utterback said. “He was like ‘Where is my file? You need to fix this now.’ I told him to calm down.”
The solution was a quick “command-z” and the document popped back on to the screen.
“He calmed down really quick. I think he realized he was kind of being a jerk,” Utterback said.
Junior Cooper Lamb stands at the front desk, a blue STC lanyard around his neck. In exchange for a laptop, Lamb swipes the student’s ID card and passes the Dell laptop into their hands.
To Lamb, an opening shift means arriving at the STC at 8 a.m. and unlocking everything. Lamb and the other employees get the library ready for the day as they set up the laptops, turn on all the chargers and scan everything that was turned in the night before, he said.
“Usually, we’re just chilling,” Lamb said. Some other employees do homework, but he usually works the front desk and checks out laptops for students. It’s a little bit busier in that sense, he said.
Typically, the overall aura of the STC shift is a relaxing one, but that isn’t always the case, Utterback said.
Sometimes even the pros have issues. Once, in the middle of dead week, a printer broke. Small things like a broken cartridge can cause a domino effect, Utterback said.
“We were trying to figure out what happened and it turned out that one of the ink packets had ruptured on the motherboard so it spilled ink all over the motherboard and just fried it,” Utterback said. There were people there who needed posters for class the next day.
In addition to checking out laptops and resolving software and print queue issues, the STC staff provides a poster printing service, which most students utilize during finals week, Utterback said. It’s services can offer many things that students may not know about.
Senior Mekena Harvey visited the STC for the first time when a class came into the computer lab she was using in Academic West.
Forced to leave and unable to access internet from her laptop, Harvey headed to the library, made a quick stop at Zoes for her morning bagel and coffee and then walked across the sky bridge to the STC.
“It’s accessible, and there’s some other small computer labs in the library but I feel like they’re usually full,” she said.
Down in the depths of the Haggard Hall basement, students scurry in and out of the small door. ATUS Classroom Services shoots students out the door carrying cameras, hard drives, lighting kits, and microphones.
Hsieh has worked at ATUS since August. From handing out laptops and answering student’s questions to organizing the equipment that fills the space of the backroom, Hsieh said there is always work to be done.
Students often act like their day has improved just because they got help with getting a charger or getting help with the equipment, Hsieh said. These exchanges have given the job meaning, Hsieh said.
“[It is rewarding] when people say ‘thank you’ even though I’ve done nothing,” Hsieh said.
The ATUS is no stranger to crowds. The front desk typically sees about 40-50 students in an hour on Monday or Friday, Hsieh said.
Junior Flor Reyes uses the STC for technology such as Mac computers, scanners and printers she can’t access off-campus.
As of this year, the ATUS offers even more technology for students. Sending out new Macbooks with retina display and equipped with programs such as Adobe Suite, Hsieh said. She believes many students aren’t aware of the resources that are available, she said.
Beyond all of the new tech and help available to students, the best aspect is that it simply exists here at Western. Only a short trip away.
“It’s accessible. It’s here,” Reyes said. “There’s always someone here to help me out if I have any questions because the desk is right there.”