The Illinois State University Information Technology (IT) community gathered at the State Farm Hall of Business and online on April 8 for the CITx Spring Conference.
This year’s conference was led by Dr. Craig McLauchlan, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. Associate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Charles Edamala introduced McLauchlan on stage. Edamala took a moment to thank the IT professionals gathered for their hard work and flexibility during the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“A lot of you have worked on campus the whole time,” he said. “When we went through masking, you came in and masked up and did your best. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”
McLauchlan began his talk by explaining how technology is needed to support the current and future generation of researchers in the state of Illinois. McLauchlan estimated that there are 1,400 research projects conducted by professors and another 400 by students. Rapidly adopting new technologies and finding ways to make old ones compatible with new ones are key to sustaining research and ensuring the state of Illinois can continue to grow as an incubator for innovation. .
“When it comes to technology, researchers are at both ends of your adoption curve,” he said. “We’re either early adopters or beta testers, and we want the latest and greatest, and we don’t want to give up on something that we know works either.”
He also spoke about future plans to expand Illinois’ statewide footprint as an innovation hub in the coming years. The three main areas in which McLauchlan plans to expand are engineering, intellectual property and a start-up incubator. Much of this discussion focused on how the new College of Engineering will fundamentally change the way the University approaches research and innovation in the future.
“The College of Engineering endorsement is huge and game-changing,” McLauchlan said. “When I interviewed for my job two years ago, I said, ‘if we get engineering, my whole focus will change, because we’re going to be starting from scratch. This will radically change the scope and scale of what we do.
McLauchlan detailed the need to rapidly expand their intellectual property and creative spaces, which will require a major investment of time and labor from technology professionals on campus. Due to the success of these collaborations thus far, McLauchlan is confident that the State of Illinois will be well prepared when the College of Engineering launches in 2025.
“The future is really bright in the state of Illinois when it comes to research and innovation, and you are a big part of that,” he said.
After the keynote, IT leaders from across campus presented their updates during the IT News segment. These updates were marked by the announcement of two important awards. David Greenfield, director of TechZone/Student Technologies, was announced as the recipient of the Williams Outstanding Technology Service Award. The award was established in 2001 by David B. and Kay O. Williams to recognize an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the University in the area of technology and services.
Next, Ella Jahraus of the Tech Solutions WEB team was named CIT Student MVP, an award that annually recognizes a student employed in the Illinois State University community for outstanding contributions to customers, staff, and/or operations. of their technical team, as well as their collaboration with others.
Arturo Ramirez, Director of Web and Interactive Communications, presented Jahraus with the award and praised his ability to work with clients and colleagues.
“Ella is playing at the level of a full-time staff member,” Ramirez said. “There are actually very picky clients and directors who call us and say, ‘I have this really important set of pages, I have this important initiative, can I please work with Ella. ‘”
After IT News ended, attendees had the choice of attending one of three Birds of a Feather breakout sessions. This year’s sessions focused on working toward Windows 11, things the IT community plans to keep from the state of Illinois pandemic response, and connecting in a hybrid world.
Organizers look forward to the annual CIT conference in August as they seek to keep the lines of communication between professionals open.
“It has never been more important for technical professionals at ISU to come together, share ideas and innovate, as students, faculty and staff are also experiencing an era of rapid change,” said Jeff Grabb, CIT committee member and host of IT News. “Whether it’s hybrid, remote, in-person, etc. IT needs to show up, collaborate and rise to the challenge.”
CIT is sponsored by the Office of Technology Solutions, TechZone, Student Affairs IT and the College of Business.
If you are interested in helping the committee, email isucit@IllinoisState.edu. Learn more about CIT.IllinoisState.edu.