Building cloud infrastructure to support research, virtual labs

Chris Wiesemann, Data Center Infrastructure Engineer

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Chris Wiesemann
Data Center Infrastructure Engineer

How long have you worked at the UO?

I started as a student employee in 2001, and became a part of the full-time staff in 2004. Depending on how you want to count it, I’ve either been here 17 years or 20.

Tell us about your work:

I work as an infrastructure engineer, which means I run the infrastructure under UO’s servers. I'm part of the team that runs the university’s private cloud, which is used on campus to run our web servers. Researchers also use them to do their data analysis. My role now consists of serving as an architect for the next iteration of the private cloud that we are preparing to install.

My position actually shifted in the middle of COVID-19, so I’m six months into my new job. In my previous role, I was responsible for our campus virtual desktops. Those responsibilities included running the infrastructure and facilitating the use of remote lab computers. I am the subject matter expert on remote virtualization on campus, which significantly impacted how life was under COVID-19.

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day in my new job consists of working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in my home office. I attend meetings and conduct all my duties virtually. This experience is basically the same as it would be on campus, with the one difference being that I am an extrovert and like talking to my coworkers in person. There’s no longer that water cooler element or the walk next door to solve a technical problem. I miss that piece, and look forward to the day we get back to that.

My job has changed a lot over the past year. Since my specialty is enabling remote education, when this transition started, I went from working eight-hour days to 16-hour days for almost two months. I facilitated remote access for a variety of programs and helped with data management for the College of Education clinics. I also assisted with the launch of our campus-wide virtual labs and supported specialized projects like research analysis or Bill Harbaugh’s econ 419 class.

What do you like about working at the UO?

The best part about working at the UO is the students. Most of my roles at the UO involve directly working with students, so I enjoy seeing them evolve over time. Witnessing students grow, stumble and gain maturity over the course of their college experience is the thing that keeps me at the UO.

I have been here for 20 years, which is long enough to witness my student employees become employees, and my past coworkers become managers. Watching this evolution of people who choose to stay at the UO and care greatly for higher education is what makes working here rewarding.

What keeps you motivated?

What drives me is really solving problems and helping the institution deliver on its goals. My specialty is really just coming into an organization, finding a problem that needs to be solved and helping solve it. I keep doing that over and over. But what kind of keeps me motivated is solving nerdy problems.

What is something people may not know about you?

Despite the fact that I work with computers all day long, I don’t own a personal one. I have reached a point in my life where computers are my job, not my hobby. When I worked on campus, I spent my days working with them to go home and do other things. Now, I have to compartmentalize my work and home life because my free time is spent with my two children.

Chris Wiesemann is part of Information Services.

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