Posts in: General News

SolarWinds and Raspberry Pi are Improving Your Online Experience

By Linda Petro

What do solar winds, raspberry pie, and network access have in common? A creative ITS: solution uses the first two to determine an online user’s experience with the third, providing crucial data to improve the overall experience. Better online access through pie  — who doesn’t like the sound of that?

The ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse (center).

ITS: has employed innovative problem solving using the ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse (center).

Here’s how it all comes together: The ITS: Division’s Enterprise Technology Team uses software called SolarWinds to record and report statistics about network access across campus and provide alerts for buildings that are offline. Unfortunately, it does not provide data about a user’s actual experience. Access may be available, but a user could be upset because a website is taking more than a minute to load. This user might express that frustration to friends about their network experience, but ITS: wouldn’t always hear about it to be able to fix it.

Those days will soon be history. A small group of ITS: Enterprise Technology teammates, including David Ziemba, Keith Conger, Dan Raney, and Manuel Rendon, got together to brainstorm and find a system to help identify these “slow spots.” One of them suggested they use a computer to monitor the network in each building. As it was cost-prohibitive to place standard machines everywhere, they focused on using the ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse, instead (pictured center). The idea was to take the tiny computer and program it to access websites as the average user would do when surfing the internet, then attach it to the SolarWinds software to record how long it was taking, making the information viewable and actionable through reports and alerts.

After some trial and error, the team started to receive data from the test Pis and was able to see how the network was performing. When a website took longer than a fraction of a second to load, the team researched why and implemented a fix. The idea was working.

Because the preliminary information was helpful, the idea expanded further. Pis were placed in nearly every campus building, with additional Pis positioned in high-need spots. Each Pi was programmed to access a list of websites every minute and send back data to SolarWinds and the team.  When the team cannot monitor the software face-to-face, alerts are sent to their email addresses so they can respond quickly.

“This system is the only one I have seen anywhere that attempts to recreate the user experience, and we are all about a better experience for everyone,” said David Ziemba, senior network engineer.  “We still need to come up with a cool name for it,” Ziemba expressed with a smile.

As the network upgrade continues into phase two, ITS: continues to look for ways to make a better network experience for all who live, study, and work here. And a better experience is worth celebrating. Raspberry Pi, anyone?

Kendall Rock ’15 Showcases Photography in Huffington Post

Montana Bass ’17

Powerful photographs by Kendall Rock ’15, a film and media studies major, have been featured in a Huffington Post article titled “The Truth About Refugees From a U.S. Student Abroad,” written by Jackie Montalvo, a student at Northwestern University.

Since graduation, Rock has worked as a freelance photographer. “I’ve never really contemplated my passion for photography,” she said. “I just have a passion for people, and like photographing them. I’m an observer, and I’m really lucky to have the skills to make a career out of capturing people’s moments and stories.”

In this most recent project, Rock’s photos accompany Montalvo’s article addressing the detached mindset often applied to the Syrian refugee crisis. By explaining her experience working with non-governmental organizations in Turkey and Greece, and juxtaposing a Grecian willingness to provide refuge with growing American suspicion toward refugees, the author encourages Americans to see the individuality and humanity of the people making up the masses.

To drive her point home, Montalvo includes Rock’s heartwarming pictures of refugees, mostly children, taken during Rock’s time in Greece with Lisa Hughes, adjunct associate professor of English, for the course Romantic Comedy and the Blue World. Realizing the opportunity for the class to contribute to crisis relief, Rock began working with the Salvation Army in Athens’ Victoria Square. Eventually, she worked with Hughes to coordinate efforts with the Salvation Army in the context of class discussions. They also organized a drive to collect funds from the CC community to contribute to the Salvation Army’s efforts.

It was during this time that Rock snapped the shots included in Montalvo’s article. “In Victoria Square, I kept my head on a swivel for moments, but I made sure that I always asked permission before I snapped a photo of someone, especially when I was photographing children. Hardly anyone spoke English, so I would hold up my camera and gesture to their child and ask, ‘OK?’ Some people said no, and some kids and young men came running toward me and posed, and then asked to see the photos and posed again and again,” she explained.

Rock has a knack for capturing photos that express the individuality of her subjects. From the refugees featured in the article to clients featured on her website,, personalities jump from the screen. “I rarely enter a photo situation looking for something specific (not really even when I photograph weddings), I instead just observe and have my camera ready all the time,” she said.

Kendall Rock '15  photo of refugees in Greece

Rock’s photos, like this one, were featured in the Huffington Post piece on refugees in Greece:

In May 2015, Rock’s filmmaking was recognized with the Richard A. Lewis Memorial Film Award, selected by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty to honor the best student film of the year. Her thesis film, “God’s in the Garage,” premiered at the JP2 Interfaith Film Festival in Miami, where it was also honored with a nomination for Best Documentary Short. Currently, Rock lives in Copenhagen and is editing a documentary about Alaska she filmed this past summer. She will return to the United States in the near future where she said she’ll continue with her work in photography and videography.




CC Students Report from International COP21 Climate Change Conference

This week, Paris welcomes 196 states and the European Union for one of the biggest international summits on climate change, COP21. Four CC students are there, too, attending daily workshops and meetings concurrent with the conference, reporting back via a daily blog of events and commentary. COP21 is the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. It’s is described as a crucial conference, targeting creation of a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. “We have been learning about the UN climate conferences throughout our college careers,” said Lily Biggar ’16, one of the students in attendance. “We feel like being here has given us a real-life application of our academic studies.”

Students at COP21

Gabriella Palko ’16 and Lily Biggar ’16 take in lectures and workshops at COP21 Summit in Paris.

Biggar and the other three bloggers, Gabriella Palko ’16, Elliot Hillar ’17, and Zach Pawa ’17, are a self-described “group of driven Colorado College students optimistic about the opportunity to create positive systematic change in the world,” according to the blog. For two weeks, they will spend time at the Climate Generations portion of the summit, along with thousands of participants from around the globe, to convene and discuss global environmental issues. Every day, students have the opportunity to attend dozens of lectures, workshops, debates, and presentations on all aspects of climate change given by NGOs, scientists, artists, UN leaders, and government officials. Follow the group’s daily updates via the AnthropoScene blog.

Ian Johnson, director of CC’s Office of Sustainability, says it’s an incredibly powerful way for students to be actively involved in the real-time issues that are developing in Paris, engage with other students and organizations, represent CC’s sustainability initiative.

“To have students in Paris during the fervor and excitement of the event is a completely different experience from reading the daily recaps in the media; they’re a part of this history, and so are we as a college community by virtue of their participation,” said Johnson, who worked with Biggar and Palko when they served as interns in the Office of Sustainability.

Lily Biggar ’16, an environmental policy major and global health minor, co-authored the college’s first State of Sustainability Report last year and works as the sustainability intern for Residential Life. Biggar’s blog bio states that she deepened her interest in environmental issues while spending a semester studying in Copenhagen, a city often regarded as the “green capital of Europe.” She is pursuing a career in environmental consulting and corporate sustainability.

Gabriella Palko ’16, also an environmental policy major, served as CC’s greenhouse gas inventory intern and is now the intern manager at the Office of Sustainability. In her blog bio, Palko says she’s passionate about climate change, and is particularly interested in the role of industrial agriculture in the current environmental crisis, hoping to play a major role in bridging the detrimental gap between science and politics.

Elliot Hillar ’17, an environmental policy major, and Zach Pawa ’17, an environmental science major, are also participating in the summit and contributing to the blog.

In addition to keeping a blog, the students have scheduled Skype sessions with both Mark Smith’s Environmental Economics class and Corina McKendry’s Global Environmental Policy class. They will also give a presentation about the experience when they return.

Dan Levitt ’16 and Professor Clay Haskell Tell Story of Syrian Refugee Camp

Montana Bass ’19

Senior Dan Levitt and Clay Haskell, assistant professor of film and media studies, are in the midst of pulling together the finished product after a moving independent study experience. They spent Block 2 filming a documentary focused on former Syrian wrestling star Mohammed al Krad in Za’atari, a Syrian refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan.

Dan Levitt '16 and Clay Haskell, assistant professor, work on a documentary film project at the Jordan-Syria border. Levitt became interested in filmmaking the summer after his sophomore year, when he took a class with Haskell. “I realized this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Levitt said. When his close family friend Linda Mason wrote an article on al Krad and the wrestling program he had built in Za’atari for The Huffington Post, Levitt was inspired and immediately saw the possibility the story held for film.

He reached out Haskell to see if he would collaborate on the project. “It was an easy choice for me,” Haskell said of working with Levitt. “He is really top quality.” To which Levitt added, “I felt an immense honor to be working with a master of the medium.”

As the retired chairwoman of Mercy Corps Leadership Council, one of the organizations providing aid for refugees in Za’atari, Mason was able to help orchestrate time for Levitt and Haskell in Za’atari. Levitt started fundraising for the trip at the beginning of this academic year. Eventually, he raised enough money to cover all costs with a combination of grants from the CC Political Science Department, the President’s Fund, a Venture Grant matched by Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, and his own Kickstarter campaign.

Conditions in Za’atari saddened both Haskell and Levitt. “We were astounded by the destitution of the situation,” said Levitt. “There’s a feeling of deep sadness because people are without the means to advance their lives. Here at CC, we have so many opportunities to pursue our passions. They’ve had everything taken from them. A lot of these people were educated professionals in Syria.”

“The border situation is a mess,” added Haskell. “People are stuck because they don’t have the financial resources to get out. Many escape across the nearest border they can find. They’re trying to get to Germany or they’re drowning in Greece. This is probably the biggest humanitarian crisis of our age.”

Amid this destitution, Mohammed al Krad stands as a symbol of community and hope. After he escaped Syria and the government’s attempts to use his celebrity to influence Syrian youth on their behalf, al Krad found himself in Za’atari and, with the help of Mercy Corps, started a wrestling program to give the boys of the camp a positive focus. “To say he was only a coach would be reductive. He was really a therapist and a community builder,” explained Levitt. “He knew the ins and outs of all their lives and was there for them, and that was reflected in their love for him.”

Now, Levitt is in the process of editing his film, which he plans to finish in about a month. Along with bringing awareness to the situation, Levitt hopes the finished product will carry the message that “even in the darkest of times, life goes on,” as he said. “People were getting married, having kids, life goes on.”

“It was an extraordinary experience all around,” said Haskell of their project. Both Levitt and Haskell express thanks for the support they received from Colorado College and Mercy Corps, which made their endeavor possible. The CC community should keep an eye out for Levitt’s documentary screening, which will probably take place later during Block 4.

Students Venture to Venable Lakes

Students travel to Venable Lakes. Photo by Emilio Rodríguez Cáceres ’17.

Students travel to Venable Lakes. Photo by Emilio Rodríguez Cáceres ’17.

Montana Bass ’18

Emilio Rodríguez Cáceres ’17 knows how to explore the mountains and back county via the outdoor opportunities at CC; this past block break he ventured out on a backpacking trip around the Venable Lakes-Comanche area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado.

This block break was actually Cáceres’s ninth trip with the CC Outdoor Recreation Committee. His trips have included other backpacking expeditions and cross country ski trips. Through these opportunities, he has traveled throughout Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Cáceres says the outdoor expeditions available through the ORC were a large contributor to his interest in CC. “Back in New Mexico, in my high school I got to do a lot of these things for the first time. Where I’m from, Paraguay, there isn’t a culture of going outside. I wanted to keep doing these things and ORC trips are the perfect way of doing that,” he explained.

Andrew Allison-Godfrey ’18 and Jack Buettner ’18 headed the Venable Lakes trip. It spanned four days during the block break between Blocks 2 and 3 and took participants on a 13-mile loop through the Venable Lakes-Comanche area. They started hiking Thursday morning and, after four miles, reached camp in a picturesque valley. On Friday, they hiked out of the valley, stopped at the Venable Lakes, and continued hiking up a ridge. “From the ridge, we hiked to the top of Comanche Peak at about 13,000 feet where we had an incredible view of the lakes, other peaks, and even Pikes Peak on the distant horizon,” Cáceres said. “That night we had a bonfire and sang under the stars.”

Cáceres stresses how accessible these trips are for all students; this one required no previous backpacking experience to participate. Additionally, ORC trips are meant to be an affordable option for students looking to venture outdoors. “There’s no better option for being outside, meeting new people, and spending little money while doing so than ORC trips,” Cáceres said.

Shove Sound System Gets “Revolutionary” Update

The next time you attend a program or performance at Shove Chapel, go ahead and sit in the back. What ITS experts call “revolutionary technology” is now in place,offering a greatly enhanced sound system for the historic building.  “The sound quality is awesome,” said Jera Wooden, “We had no idea how clear and crisp everything would sound.”

ITS began working on the project about a year ago, recognizing the need for an upgrade to the sound system while also identifying very specific aesthetic and acoustic needs within the space. The Tectonic speakers are “cutting edge” said Randy Babb and Sean Roberts, members of the ITS Smart Spaces team who led the installation process. While traditional speakers distribute sound directionally, similar to the way light is distributed by a spot light, the new speakers use a flat surface to distribute the sound cleanly and clearly, with less echoing. Shove Chapel is one of the first buildings in the country to install this new speaker technology.

Visually, the flat speakers are unobtrusive in the historic space. They’re only 2.5 inches thick and five new speakers replace the 20 small speakers used in the old system. They were powder coated with a custom color to match the chapel’s stone walls and the extensive wiring (they’re wired speakers, but you wouldn’t easily notice) required a month of drilling, boring, and cosmetic work.

The new system launched with the 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony and has been used at weddings and other services throughout the summer. Now, controls are mobile, accessed via a handheld iPad, or iPads in two different stationary locations within the chapel, improving the ease of use, formerly done in one tiny control room, up a steep flight of stairs. “Weddings are so much easier, not constantly running up the stairs, and we have wireless microphones; it’s great,” Wooden said.

This $76,000 project was funded through an endowment used for regular maintenance of the facility. Take a listen here,  and a look at photos, from installation through the final product, below.

The Soup Project – Rethinking the Community Kitchen

The CC Community Kitchen has changed and is now working with the community as The Soup Project at the Community Kitchen Club. The Soup Project offers students and guests a shared space to practice food justice and arts for social change each week. However, the change is not just in name.

Guests will be welcomed into Shove Memorial Chapel for a meal on the CC campus this Sunday, as they have each Sunday for more than 22 years. But the support CC provides for those in need now includes more educational programming, focus on nutrition, and structure.

An initial action plan had a Nov. 16 target date to move the kitchen out of the space at Shove Chapel. But through a collaborative effort, The Soup Project took shape and will now work to address the root causes of poverty, hunger, and homelessness through education, awareness, and advocacy.

A registration process for all participants, or members, of the Community Kitchen Club – all volunteers, students, and guests – began in mid-November. This provides accountability and empowers all to take ownership in solving these issues in the community. The format of the program has also changed; the focus now is on community learning, providing educational programming around art for social change, accompanying a nutritious meal.  All participants will have to abide by a code of conduct; a community safety plan and training for all participants are also new components of The Soup Project.

The Soup Project mission involves much more than providing a meal to those in need. It is a place where neighbors can come together to create a better community. Dave Harker, newly appointed director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement, said issues of security, integrity of the building, and the nature of the Community Kitchen are now being addressed. Meals are continuing for those who choose to participate in the programming component and dialogue is now underway to determine a new location for the future. Guests are already recognizing the change, and those who choose not to participate in the programming will receive a boxed lunch to take with them on Sundays in December, providing a meal to aid in this transition for the community.

The Soup Project is a collaboration between CC’s Food Coalition and Arts for Social Change Coalition, which is housed within CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement. If you would like to learn more, contact Adison Petti:

New and potential partnerships in the community will be identified so students may continue to work on these issues and engage in purposeful ways with those who are homeless, hungry, and impoverished. In partnership with CC’s Innovation Institute, the Collaborative is encouraging students to have a larger and more lasting impact through The Soup Project Challenge. This challenge will offer $20,000 in award money to fund student-designed social innovation projects to address homelessness and hunger in Colorado Springs. Details about the criteria, application process, and deadlines are coming soon. The Soup Project Challenge kick off and information session will be held Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. in the Morreale Carriage House.

Giving Thanks at Annual Thanksgiving Meal

Seventy-five students gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, enjoyed football games on the big screen, talked about the myths and traditions around the holiday, and took in some arts and crafts fun making hand turkeys. The annual Thanksgiving meal is an opportunity for any students on campus during the Thanksgiving break to spend time together and savor a holiday meal. A team helped put on the feast, with Bon Appetit preparing the meal, representatives from Campus Safety carving the turkeys, and Residential Life coordinators assisting with activities. Residential Life and Housing, Campus Safety, and The Butler Center provided funding.

Turkey Feast Turkey Feast 2 TurkeyFeast2014 Feast

Students Share at CC Internship Experience Forum

IntershipExperience2More than 100 students traveled across the country and around the globe, from the Uganda Village Project to Venetucci Farm, gaining real-world experience, knowledge, and inspiration for the impact they’ll have now, and after leaving CC.

Megan Gillespie ’16, sociology major, spent her summer at an unpaid internship in Denver with the Lutheran Family Services refugee program. She spent more than an hour at the CC Internship Experience Forum explaining her work to fellow students and other members of the CC community, before rotating out and allowing other students their opportunity to share. The organization Gillespie worked with assists families and individuals fleeing the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and many other countries, arriving in the United States without access to resources, embarking on a very uncertain journey. Gillespie helped pair families with cultural mentors, connected them with social services, and assisted them in developing job skills. She said the internship is also relevant to her thesis work on refugees and the implications and concept of residential segregation, which is relocating families from the same cultural backgrounds in the same neighborhoods. “Throughout the summer, I was asking the question, ‘are we perpetuating the issue, and is it necessary?’” she said of placing refugee families in the United States. Gillespie continues the work on campus, leading the Refugee Assistance Program service group at CC.

Funding provided by the college enabled students to accept internships, regardless of any financial barriers or impacts. “The CC community at large contributed resources to help fill students’ financial gaps, allowing them the opportunity to participate in unpaid or underpaid internship opportunities over the summer,” said Megan Nicklaus, director of the Career Center. The CC Internship Experience Forum provided an opportunity for those students to share their experiences with the campus community.

Be a New Employee Again!

The Human Resources department is inviting all Colorado College staff – regardless of how long you have been at CC – to sign up for CCNEW or CC CONNECT (or both!) to experience the enhanced onboarding process developed for new CC employees. Both programs are part of Thrive@CC.

“Any employee can join the onboarding program at any time it’s offered,” said Lisa Brommer, senior associate director of human resources.

CCNEW is offered every month and focuses on the processes and procedures at CC, helping new employees navigate the technicalities: compensation, key policies, the strategic plan, and benefits. CC CONNECT, which is offered quarterly, is more relational, Brommer said. Its goal is to connect new employees with campus leaders and provide them with the opportunity to meet faculty, other staff, and students. Various campus resources, such as Staff Council, the Employee Assistance Program, and SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator) also are highlighted in the CC CONNECT sessions.

The next CC NEW session will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3 in the WES Room on the lower level of the Worner Center.  Upcoming future sessions will be held Dec.1, Jan. 6, Feb. 2, March 2, April 1, May 1, June 1, and July 1.

The next CC CONNECT session will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Spencer Board Room, located on the first floor of the newly renovated Spencer Center, with breakfast and lunch provided. Future sessions will be held Feb. 25, April 28, and June 23.

Human Resources also will launch a CC ambassador program in January, in which newly hired staff members will be paired with a person who has been at CC for a while and can serve as a campus reserouce. The expanded programs are related to the workplace excellence initiative in CC’s Strategic Plan.

“Re-energize yourself,” Brommer said. “Be a new employee again.”