The 2019 IT Sparta Awards

Hello, colleagues:

It’s important to celebrate the hard work, dedication, and the successes of our division. But it’s equally important to celebrate the people in our team that make this success possible.

Nominations for the 2020 IT Sparta Awards are open now. If you have a team or individual you would like to recognize please click here to fill out the form.

All 2019 IT Sparta Award WinnersThe IT Sparta Awards
The IT Sparta Awards are given to one team and one individual each year to recognize those staff members who serve our campus with distinction and work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep SJSU amazing. They bring out the best in each other through a collaborative spirit, a commitment to innovation, and everyday leadership. They provide consistent and exceptional service, whether working with students or building something with a campus department.

Every member of the IT Division has the opportunity to nominate employees through an open call. From there, I work with the IT Peer Consultation Group to choose the most outstanding project, program, team, or individual to win the award. The selection process is designed to raise our employees, increasing staff members’ visibility to work every day and get it done.

2019 IT Sparta Award Team WinnersTeam Winners
Last year’s Team Award was granted to the NextSteps App project Team, which includes Nolan Liu, Debashish Basak, Sean Davis, Steve Chang, An Nguyen, Lam Vu, Mona Hall, Elma Arredondo, Eric Matthews, Jane Wang, Kirk Nguyen, and Lor Vang.

The NextSteps App is an integral part of student orientation and the undergrad admissions process. It not only helps manage the orientation planning and registration process, it is also one of the first digital experiences that students encounter on campus. This team helped to define the App experience and make it a positive one!

The team is split into two groups. The Infrastructure Groups set up new virtual machines and OS software, networking, new databases, load balancer configurations, and all of the back-up work to make NextSteps run smoothly. The Application Group set up the software, including testing, Qualys web app security scans, system configurations (for IIS, PHP, FileMaker, file shares, etc.), upgrading to new software versions, and more.

Working with NextSteps represents a multi-department collaboration with many moving pieces operating under hard deadlines. Customer service, efficiency, and precision were all requirements for success.

2019 IT Sparta Award Individual WinnerIndividual Winner
Mario Rivas won the individual award last year because he consistently provides exceptional user support and customer service to an extensive range of users and technologies. He receives high praise and spectacular feedback from his customers and co-workers by going well beyond expectations and raises the bar for IT service levels. Mario has elevated the “can-do” attitude up to the “will-do” level.

He was a critical driving force behind numerous successful projects in 2019. He was instrumental in several different departments’ physical move, including Finance, HR, and our own SJSU IT folks from Clark 500 to Clark 140. For each of these moving projects, Mario exhibited careful advance planning, attention to detail, dedication to getting things done right, and quick responsiveness to issues. Because of his work, each of these moves were completed smoothly and efficiently, ensuring that customers experienced minimal disruption and downtime in the process.

Presidential Recognition
Plaques for both winners are now on display on the Computer Center’s Hall of Fame Wall. Please come by after when things settle down and take a look.

 

Best regards,
-Bob

Gartner Blockchain Analyst Briefing Recap

This latest event in the IT Extended Education Technology Series featured an analyst briefing from Gartner’s higher education blockchain expert. Covering core concepts, use cases, and disruptive power for universities, the presentation examined this emerging technology from a top-down leadership perspective, outlining practical benefits alongside the risks and challenges. We anonymously surveyed the briefing attendees for feedback.

A Quality Presentation
Gartner Blockchain Briefing attendee satisfaction surveyOf the surveyed participants, 93.8% marked the overall quality of the event as Good, Very Good, or Excellent. Some of the respondents provided actionable feedback. One wrote, “I would love to have the a copy of the slide deck. It was extremely informative.” We contacted Gartner that day to get a copy of their deck and forwarded it out to all attendees by the next day. The presenter herself received high marks, as all respondents marked the quality of the presentation as Good, Very Good, or Excellent. “Terri [the presenter] went to details when needed/asked. Very professional. I learned new use cases for Higher Ed.”

One area we can do better is making sure the presentation fits the technical skill level of the room. Only 66% of respondents marked the relevance of the material as Very Good or Excellent with the remaining 34% marking Good. While some commented that the presentation jumped in without enough foundation, others said that it wasn’t advanced enough.

Adding Value
Gartner Blockchain Briefing value add survey question resultsRespondents valued how the presentation supplemented existing or academic knowledge of Blockchain, with 93.8% of them saying they valued it Highly, Very Highly, or Exceptionally Highly. One commented, “I’m starving for this kind of material. Very important to helping us think forward.” Exploring these kinds of cutting-edge technologies and evaluating how they could be applied to our campus is a core goal of these workshops. After the presentation, 66.6% of surveyed participants said they would support future university blockchain initiatives. Though the question was left up to interpretation, respondents were still excited about the possibility of bringing blockchain to campus, with one participant saying, “Easing processes and access to information? Heck yeah.”

Moving Forward
Interest in future IT Extended Education Technology Series events surveyThe best barometer for success, however, is the likelihood of participants to attend another similar briefing, workshop, or presentation in the future. When asked if they’d come to another IT Extended Education Technology Series event again, 94% said yes. The most requested topic for a future event was Artificial Intelligence, with 60% of those responding choosing AI. Other popular responses were Cloud Service and Cybersecurity.

Potential future workshop topics

 

Watch your inbox for information on upcoming IT Extended Education Technology Series events as we look to bring more industry experts and enterprise-grade tools to San Jose State University.

Thank you,
Bob Lim

The 2018 IT Sparta Awards

We established the first IT Sparta Awards, given to one team and one individual each year, to recognize those staff members who serve our campus with distinction and work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep SJSU amazing. They bring out the best in each other through a collaborative spirit, a commitment to innovations, and everyday leadership. They provide consistent and exceptional service, whether working with students or building something with a campus department.

Every department in your IT Division has the opportunity to nominate employees and department directors submit their selections directly to me. I then work with an IT peer consultation group, consisting of employees from many departments, to choose the most outstanding project, program, team, or individual to win the award. The selection process is designed to raise up our employees, increasing the visibility of staff members who come to work every day and get it done.

Team Winner
From left: Ryan Campbell, Mary Papazian, Jocelyn Tom, Leon Nguyen The inaugural Team Award went to Leon Nguyen, Ryan Campbell, and Jocelyn Tom for their work supporting the Digital Transformation of SJSU through the implementation of OnBase and DocuSign. This team works with many departments on campus to migrate old paper records and paper processes to digital workflows, making them more efficient and more accurate.

As of February 2019, the team had digitized 2.9 million documents — enough to pile up to a 90-story building — in OnBase, a digital document storage system. Digital documentation solves many problems, especially for an organization like SJSU. Digital documents prevent the creation of over 11,000 student folders per year, don’t require storage, and are much more easily indexed and searched. They don’t get misplaced and they’re instantly verified and secured. For new forms requiring signatures, campus uses DocuSign, a digital paperwork signing platform. As of February 2019, an average of 5,300 digital documents received 6,820 digital signatures. Using DocuSign greatly speeds up campus’ paperwork process. The paper trail is transparent and accountable, signatures can be done virtually from anywhere, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle across campus.

Individual Winner
From left: Devona Williams, Mary PapazianDevona Williams’ work building proactive solutions for the Division led to her recognition as the winner of this year’s Individual Award. Her innovations have improved the Instructional and Meeting Space team’s productivity, raising the bar for service on campus.

Devona created an app to help to consolidate department processes and provide at-a-glance reference for room inventory, location, and information. She also implemented new software to reduce paper workflows. Then, after reinventing how IMS worked digitally, she moved to optimize the department’s workspace with more organization, better flow, and a facelift. These improvements have made a tangible difference and brought out the best in the IMS team. Devona took self-initiative, without being prompted to work on any of these projects. She saw how she could improve her department and got to work.

Presidential Recognition
In March, university President Mary Papazian presented the Sparta Award winners with plaques commemorating their achievement. These plaques are now on display on the Computer Center’s Hall of Fame Wall. Please come by and take a look. And, if you’re an SJSU staff member, don’t forget to contact IT and nominated your individual or team awards for 2019 when submissions open.

Thank you,
Bob-

Google Cloud Platform Workshop

In a first among the CSU system, Google partnered with the SJSU IT Division to host a workshop on some cutting-edge cloud technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Decision Learning, and Data Engineering. Close to 500 Spartans (including students, faculty, researchers, and staff) signed up to attend the January 8-11 event in Clark Hall, though we could only fit 50 into a packed room. The workshop brought one of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants to campus and augmented academic knowledge with hands-on opportunities from a field expert, delivering on IT’s promise to bring enterprise-grade academic technology advancement to SJSU.

In a follow-up survey, 100% of respondents rated the workshop as Very Good or Excellent and 100% said they would attend a future workshop hosted by IT.  “The content of the workshop is very informational and advanced in the cloud platform field. The hands-on labs are interactive exercises those make me understand the concepts well and be involved in the learning process,” said one.

When asked valuable the session was in supplementing academic knowledge, 90% of the responders rated the workshop Very Good or Excellent. SJSU IT looks to roll this success forward into future events. Participants in the workshop expressed interest in a number of other topics for possible future workshops, with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain leading the way followed by Cybersecurity and Virtual Machines.

Google’s instructor remarked that the attendees at SJSU were some of the quickest, most engaged he’s worked with. The feeling was mutual, with one attendee stating, “The instructor was very knowledgeable with what he teaches and gives very good presentations. He was very helpful with the labs.”

While many of participants were SJSU students, there were plenty of researchers, faculty, and staff, all gaining practice and experience with enterprise-level tools to carry into the classroom or implement within the university’s IT and research infrastructures. “Overall the topics covered on GCP was exceptional. SJSU is currently exploring the implementation of cloud-based BI and Predictive analytics strategy. The timing of these workshops is just perfect and they allow the technical team to perform comparisons and benchmark for the ideal solution that is beneficial to SJSU,” said Ravi Pisupati, a Senior Analyst & Project Manager with SJSU.

Thank you to everybody involved in making this event a success. It certainly didn’t go unnoticed, as one attendee commented, “The room had a speedy WIFI connection and wonderful setup screens. Thanks for organizing everything so well for us. Their effort and hard work made the intensive experience much easier.” I could agree more and want to specifically thank Joseph Chou and Willie Simon for their work on this event.