Posts in: Kudos

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, http://www.kendall-rock.com, 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: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackie-montalvo/the-truth-about-refugees-_b_8610518.html

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 Special Collections to Grow with $10,000 WES Gift

CC's Special Collections curator and archivist Jessy Randall accepts a $10,000 gift from the Woman's Educational Society.

CC’s Special Collections curator and archivist Jessy Randall accepts a $10,000 gift from the Woman’s Educational Society.

The Woman’s Educational Society of Colorado College Co-President Ann Burek presented $10,000 this fall to CC Special Collections curator and archivist Jessy Randall. The gift is for the purpose of enhancing the college curriculum by acquiring significant books and documents that focus on women’s history and contributions to society.

WES has a long history of support for Special Collections (also known as the Colorado College Room) at Tutt Library, including purchasing a case for rare documents in Tutt Library in 1969 and providing the Colorado College Room with furnishings in 1974.

Special Collections includes: documents, papers, publications, and photographs chronicling CC history; books by CC professors and alumni; important book collections; rare books and other valuable items (such as a page from a Gutenberg Bible or the contents of CC’s time capsule opened in the year 2000); electronic files; and access to some of the above via the internet (yearbooks, student newspapers, and time capsule contents).

CC Special Collections is open to everyone. Its main purpose is to serve CC students, but people visit from all over the world to use the rare and unique materials preserved there, including medieval manuscripts, printed books from the Gutenberg era, and the papers of 19th century writer and Indian rights activist Helen Hunt Jackson.

In the past decade, Special Collections has become much more focused on students. In 2001, it saw about 600 visitors. Since 2009, Special Collections has had about 1,600 visitors each year. The majority of these researchers are CC students, though visitors come from all over the world. Special Collections used to get a dozen class visits a year, and now it sees about 50. This means CC classes are visiting almost once a week. Many of these classes do block-long projects using the historic materials. Some examples from the last academic year include a medieval history class looking at manuscripts and early printed books; a Southwest studies class using primary sources of diaries and letters; and an architecture class studying the development of the CC campus using photographs and files.

Part of the library’s mission is to capture CC’s history, and to provide students with access to books and documents of the sort maintained by Special Collections. The Woman’s Educational Society said this gift allows the organization to make a proud contribution to this mission.

CC Dubbed “Bike-Friendly” and Striving to be Even Friendlier

Monica Black ‘19

Many CC students, faculty, and staff know that campus is a great place to be a bike enthusiast, but now CC has finally received formal recognition: Colorado College has been named a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists. Factors such as CC’s 1:1 bike rack to student ratio, a student-run bike co-op, and the bike rental program all played into the decision. The ranking also included a space for testimonials from students on the friendliness of the campus bike culture.

Although CC received praise for its current biking culture, unique challenges remain for those who get around on two wheels. Most of the throughways around campus are city streets, so CC’s ability to make an impact on crossings and bike lanes is minimal. Additionally, the campus is isolated from many of the business centers in sprawling Colorado Springs because many busy municipal roads lack bike lanes.

But, Ian Johnson, director of thBikes in the snowe Office of Sustainability, who submitted CC for bike-friendly campus recognition, said he’s looking eagerly toward the future. “As CC is a major part of the downtown biking culture, we’ve embarked on a feasibility study with [the city of Colorado Springs] and other key stakeholders to develop a bike share program that suits both the city and our campus, to help tie us more closely to the community,” said Johnson. This program aims to help connect the college to Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, and University Village, and encourages the culture of biking among a student body, which sometimes claims “you need a car in the Springs.”

Students, staff, and faculty will play the biggest role in further adopting bike culture into campus life. “The biggest thing that people can do is to bike to work and class regularly, and let us know what sorts of challenges they’re facing,” said Johnson. “It’s not for the sake of a designation, but for the benefit of the real users on our campus.”

Women’s XC Head to Nationals, Castaneda Named Coach of the Year

Montana Bass ’18

The CC women’s cross country team took fourth in regional championships last weekend, qualifying three runners (Allysa Warling ’19, Leah Wessler ’17, and Katie Sandfort ’17) for the NCAA National Meet Nov. 21. This comes after wrapping up October with an exciting win and another Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in October. Additionally, in exclusive voting by the head coaches of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, CC’s Ted Castaneda was selected SCAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

As part of the team’s conference win, six of the Tiger’s runners finished in the top 10 and junior Leah Wessler captured her second consecutive individual title at Stone Creek Golf Club in Sherman, Texas. She also repeated as SCAC Women’s Runner of the Year.

Wessler said much of the team’s success this season is owed to the addition of “awesome new runners, who pushed returning athletes to work even harder.” The team also lost only one senior from the previous season. “We were able to build on the momentum of last year, when we finally beat our rival, Trinity,” said Wessler.

But the team has overcome some challenges en route to the championship. Last year, tendonitis flared up in Wessler’s ankle during track season, so this year she maintained a regimen of consistent icing and massages. The addition of new recruits and different racing styles required team-wide adjustments. “Members of a good team need to know and predict the movements of other teammates around them during a race, so people know when to step in for a member who is having a bad race, when to make a move on runners of another team, and so on,” said Wessler. “I think one of the reasons we were so successful at the conference meet was that we have fully adjusted to the new team dynamics, and we were running for each other as well as for ourselves.”

About two weeks leading up to a big race, the team “eases up” their workouts. “I usually stop doing two-a-days to rest my legs,” said Wessler. The day before the race, they run the course to make sure everyone knows route. “I’m very good at getting lost,” Wessler admitted.

Though they felt fairly confident entering the conference meet, Wessler called the course one of the most difficult the team had experienced this season. “Usually my mind wanders a lot during races, but there were so many ups and downs, swamps, mud puddles, and sharp turns, that there was always something to pay attention to,” she explained. “I was pretty stressed by how fast my energy and adrenaline were subsiding because of all the hills and mud.”Women's Cross Country team celebrates the conference win.

Jessica Hunter-Larsen ’90 Honored for Pushing the Envelope

Montana Bass ’18

Jessica Hunter-Larsen ’90, curator of CC’s InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts or IDEA Space, has received the award for “Pushing the Envelope” from the Pikes Peak Arts Council. She was recognized for three exhibitions: “Re-Orientations,” “Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy,” and “Extending the Line.”

Hunter-Larsen said the projects developed out of her own persistent questions including, “What are Tesla’s scientific and cultural legacies?” “How do contemporary artists respond to 19th Century Orientalist images?” and “What are the myriad meanings and expressions of a simple concept, such as a line?” Through the IDEA Space, which is founded on the premise that participation in the arts engenders creative thinking in all endeavors, she was able to collaborate with artists, CC faculty and students, and the greater Colorado Springs community to explore these questions. Together, they attended and participated in research, public lectures, discussions, classes, and performances.

“I feel like this award signifies that IDEA is living up to its full title: InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts,” said Hunter-Larsen. She noted that the purpose of the program is “to create a community of seekers, rather than to present information.” This atmosphere of creative exploration allows Hunter-Larsen and members of the CC and Colorado Springs community to pursue intriguing questions in a much different manner than a formal academic setting would allow.

Looking toward the future, Hunter-Larsen continues to plan exhibitions of art exploration at IDEA Space. Over the next year, she said she hopes to “explore topics such as water conservation, the legacy of the nuclear age in the Southwest, and contemporary Native American art based on traditional crafts.” Hunter-Larsen expressed gratitude to CC for the philosophical and financial support of this program, which she said has truly created a “fertile environment for challenging perceived boundaries and taking artistic risks.”

With these exciting upcoming projects in mind and a new award under her belt, it’s no surprise she feels so satisfied with her job, which she describes as “just plain fun, because I am always learning.”

Coach Kevin Cronin Appears in Training and Conditioning

Coach Kevin Cronin

Coach Kevin Cronin

By Montana Bass ’18

Head Coach of Strength and Conditioning Kevin Cronin was featured in an article for Training and Conditioning magazine’s September issue. The piece by Joel Bergeron titled “On the Fast Track” discusses recent progress in the integration of technology into sports training, specifically focusing on the use of individual GPS devices to track athletes’ training and recovery.

In the article, Cronin explains that CC’s soccer and lacrosse teams have been using the GPS technology for two full seasons as a reference point to alert coaches when time should be taken off for recovery. He also comments on the challenge of using the data productively and efficiently, and working with coaches to explain the connection between data results and athlete performance.

He cites the competitive nature of collegiate athletics as an inherent challenge in reporting on this topic. Cronin, who’s interviewed in the piece alongside coaches from the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Notre Dame, explained, “one of the downfalls of the article is that there is a lot of money on the line for the other coaches interviewed. NCAA tournament appearances bring money into athletic departments and revealing their ‘secrets’ to their competitors is unlikely.”

Cronin said that Training and Conditioning reported on an important topic, commenting that, “technology is a big deal in the world of sport performance these days, and this article was one of the more revealing articles about technology and its use.”

Senior Survey Recognition

Each year, CC conducts a survey with graduating seniors asking about their experience at CC. A question on the survey invites students to identify staff members who have made a difference in their lives. Alejandro Salazar ’15, past president of the CCSGA, spoke on behalf of the student body at the Block 1 In The Loop all-staff meeting and shared that graduating seniors acknowledged over 130 staff members in the survey. He expressed gratitude for the support provided by all of the staff at CC. For a complete list of staff identified in the senior survey, go to Quick Links on the HR webpage and read Salazar’s full comments.  

CC Grads Bring Women’s Art to Life in Rootstalk

The cover of the first edition of Rootstalk Magazine.

By Monica Black ’19

Kate Dunn ’14 and Erin O’Neill ’14 developed the online quarterly arts publication Rootstalk Magazine with a very clear mission in mind: to create a space for a community of self-identified women to publish their art. The magazine features art (including songs, music reviews, poetry, essays, paintings, and fiction) made by women from all walks of life.

Dunn and O’Neill, residents of Oakland, CA, were both interested in women’s studies in college. Dunn, an English major, began to think about the intersection between literature and women’s studies while studying abroad in Greece with CC. It was not until they both graduated that they began to comprehend that women do not often have spaces to share their art and work. O’Neill, a studio art major, and Dunn collaborated during the past year to create Rootstalk, the name of which means literally “an underground, horizontal root system that grows together into a web to nourish one developing plant.”

In attempting to build this web, Rootstalk aims to venture outside normal boundaries. Instead of striving to be a haven for teenage girls like, for example, the celebrated 2011 magazine Rookie, Rootstalk prides itself on being directed toward any and all women and pushes for an intergenerational community. The creators search in more ways than one to be a democratic, fully representative community. “We want women,” said Dunn, “who do not necessarily identify as artists (although self-identified artists are welcome too!), to have a place to showcase thoughts, paintings, drawings, songs, journal entries, that they’d otherwise keep to themselves.“

Rootstalk emphasizes this idea of sharing in the published content. It reads like a mature show-and-tell, featuring everything from pictures of old journal entries to lo-fi bedroom rock. The front cover of the current issue is a piece entitled “What I Think About When I Think About Yoga” by Eleanor Anderson. It depicts a little androgynous person dancing across the page, contorting its body into sometimes-impossible shapes. Most of the art is similarly impressionistic and personal. The cumulative effect of the pieces is similar to the one produced while browsing someone else’s diary: it is confessional but not self-consciously so, it is smart, and it is surprising.

Rootstalk’s first issue, “Transition,” is available online now; 10 of the 18 submissions are from CC alumnae. The website, rootstalkmagazine.org, is currently accepting submissions.

CC Takes Strides in Sustainability

Students install solar panels at the Baca Campus.

By Montana Bass ’18

In the past months, Colorado College has made significant progress toward reaching its sustainability goals. The college has achieved the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education STARS Gold Status, it moved up to 59th on the Sierra Cool Schools list, and received the WateReuse CO customer of the year award.

These achievements represent efforts by CC’s Office of Sustainability, which completed the AASHE STARS questionnaire for the first time last year. STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) is a widely respect self-reporting framework used by colleges across the country to track sustainability progress. Colleges can earn credit based on criteria across four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Depending on the results, they earn a rating as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.

In only its second year participating, CC has already moved from the silver to the gold ranking with a current score is 66.89 (85 will earn CC platinum status). Ian Johnson, director of sustainability, said, “energy and greenhouse gas emissions are key players in all regards. Continuing to focus on parallel goals and commitments, such as our carbon neutrality goals, will continue to move us up.”

While students and faculty may already consider CC a “cool school,” now it’s official. The Sierra Club recently recognized the college as 59th out of 135 schools on its Cool Schools of 2015 list. The Sierra Club uses a survey called the Campus Sustainability Data Collector, which draws from the data collected by Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, and the Princeton Review.

Schools can receive a total of 1000 points spread across 11 categories. CC earned a score of 641.93, while the highest-ranking school, University of California Irvine, earned a score of 867.29. In the categories of food, energy, and waste, CC ranked in the top 25 out of all 135 schools, and also earned all possible points in the planning category.

According to Johnson, this recognition is especially important in terms of continuing to increase CC’s rankings in other higher education standings and gaining the respect of peer institutions, prospective students, and alumni. “Sierra Magazine is widely respected and reviewed,” he said. “Our improvement this year is a direct result of the college’s strategic plan goals and focus on sustainability, largely guided by the annual STARS survey that informs our State of Sustainability report.”

Additionally, CC received the Customer of the Year Award from WateReuse Colorado. “This award recognizes projects and people within Colorado that have made significant contributions to water reuse,” said Tara Kelley, Regulatory Services Section Supervisor for Colorado Springs, who nominated CC for the award. CC has been using reclaimed water for over 45 years. The award states that the college has “demonstrated superb compliance with Colorado Springs Utilities standards and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulations throughout this time.”