By Jesse Drake
In the fall of 2017, student interns in UIT's Network Operations Center (NOC) began facilitating semi-regular Tech Talks. The driving concept behind the self-guided presentations is to deepen the students’ shared understanding of network processes, software or applications. Diving into interesting topics, creating slides, improving public speaking skills – and sometimes, snacks – are all bonuses.The students have become the teachers.
"Tech Talks are a great opportunity for students to learn from each other and ask questions," said Rosalia Villegas, business data analyst on UIT's Network Services team. "The level of comprehension the interns have is impressive. They can easily present challenges and how to resolve them. Tech Talks has also allowed us to review the current documentation on those subjects."
It’s a collective endeavor. Students select topics, and get together as schedules allow. Tech Talks embodies the concept of experiential, student-led learning. It also ties in nicely with the hands-on emphasis of the Student University Development Opportunity (sUdo) program.
"We discovered what came easy for the students to learn, and the areas we could improve with the onboarding process, or provide additional guidance to fill in the knowledge gaps," Villegas said.
In addition to students, UIT staff are often invited in as guest speakers. At the Tech Talk event on June 27, for example, NOC Network Engineer Brian Sorensen, who has since left the university, gave an overview of his project to identify points of contacts for IPs on current DNS infrastructure. The scripting project was in advance of UIT migrating DNS to Anycast infrastructure on July 31, 2018.
Because the NOC employs a host of emerging technologies, there's never a shortage of material. The NOC is a technical team in UIT Network Services. It oversees real-time monitoring and management of the U network on campus, clinical and external locations. In sum, the NOC keeps a watchful eye over all monitored networking devices, helping the university to maintain 24/7/365 network uptime for end users.