The CAT (Computer Action Team) provides IT support throughout MCECS. With a primary focus on instructional needs, the CAT supports many large scale computer labs (both college-wide and departmental), remotely accessible compute/session servers, various remotely accessible services and the server and physical network infrastructure that binds it all together. Where possible, the CAT is also able to leverage its infrastructure to support research and special projects in the College.
The CAT consists of 8 FTE (that includes a Director and department administrator), 7-10 student workers, and an army of volunteer trainees. Technical support for each platform (Windows, Linux/UNIX, Networking, and internal application development) has a full-time lead who, in turn, is surrounded by a team that may include full time employees, student workers and student volunteers. Many CAT team members support multiple platforms, thereby being able to leverage more efficiency from a small organization. A core group of user services personnel provide coordination and oversight, helping to resolve complex problems, and bringing in the expertise of the technical teams when needed. This group also supervises the front desk workers that provide the primary interface to the organization.
The front desk is staffed by student volunteer trainees. Student volunteers are inducted into the team by a long term internal apprenticeship program called the Braindump. The Braindump provides a high level of ongoing training in the various platform areas, user support and internal software development that the CAT engages in. FTE and prior student trainees volunteer their time to teach and mentor the newcomers. As they learn valuable IT skills, the student trainees play an integral part in helping the CAT, allowing FTE and student workers to focus on critical problems, projects and strategic planning.
The primary drop-in support pod is located in the basement of FAB. If enough front-line personnel are available, a second support pod may be activated in the EB General Lab. Users are able to have their problems resolved by going to a support pod in person, calling by phone or by sending e-mail to a central support address. Support via IRC chat is also available and popular with some students. A trouble ticketing system, developed in-house, is used to track and manage the numerous issues that need to be worked on. A tech support website, an intranet, and self-service portal provide online further online support to users.
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