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Did you know? Many of the daily tasks required to keep campus operating efficiently rely on a partnership between Administrative Operations and Purdue IT's Cooperative Services Desktop Support - guaranteeing the right technology is in place to do the tasks that keep campus running.

Purdue IT’s Desktop Support goes way beyond laptops and printers

Customers of Purdue IT’s Cooperative Services Desktop Support (CSDS) team likely are familiar with the hardware (like laptops and printers) or software (such as Windows and security updates) they provide to keep your devices operating smoothly.  

But did you know their handiwork is just as likely found deep in the sewers underneath campus? Enhancing the delivery of electricity and heat across campus? Or, enabling old-school technology, like creating physical brass door keys, that remain relevant today? 

Despite the word “desktop” in its name, CSDS is responsible for approving, acquiring and supporting much of the technology needed to run a modern campus. Through a partnership with Administrative Operations (formerly known as Physical Facilities), CSDS provides the technical support and administration for the software that powers a surprising number of needs.  Administrative Operations, with a staff of over 1,400, encompasses campus operations ranging from buildings and grounds maintenance, utilities distribution and power plant, parking and transportation, airport operations, public safety, planning, real estate and construction, and environmental health.  

“Of the 900 different applications we support, at least 450 of them are to support something for Administrative Operations,” said Deanna Shafer-Rater, director, Desktop Computer Services. “I think most people would be surprised to learn the variety of things we’re involved with.”  

For instance, CSDS helps with processes such as:  

  • Providing the software and technical support to run the “sewage cam” that is used to investigate the campus’s sewer system, looking for blockages and leaks preventing adverse impacts to facilities and occupants. 
  • Outfitting the Radiological and Environmental Management office with a wide variety of tools needed to test everything from indoor air quality to the amount of radiation being emitted from lightbulbs across campus.  
  • Software and support for airport and parking operations including gate controls and kiosks. 
  • Measuring electrical, heat and chilled water outputs from the Wade Utility Plant to ensure that equipment is running efficiently.  
  • Technical support for the plasma cutters in Purdue’s metal shop to turn sheet metal into heating and ventilation ducts for new construction and renovations. 
  • Re-keying software to run the machine that manufactures the thousands of brass keys used across the campus, ensuring precise measurements and unique profiles for each lock.  
  • Acquiring and supporting software to create building plans and maps for over 380 buildings, 20M GSF and 19,700 statewide acres and hundreds of miles of infrastructure, including fiber and PIC’s.  

Those functions, and hundreds of others, are essential to the operation of campus, says Director of Facilities Information Services Angela Slocum, a fact many people don’t realize.  

“The partnership Administrative Operations has with CSDS is essential to maintaining safe and reliable campus operations and strengthens our abilities to respond quickly to events and needs for our campus clients,” says Slocum. “Our staff run the gamut with regards to technical skills and abilities and in many cases work away from a computer making sure buildings, grounds, and systems are working as they should.” 

With hundreds of applications to support and implement, Shafer-Rater says her team spends a lot of time documenting and testing processes and is actively involved in the purchase and implementation of tools to ensure that it meets Purdue’s needs and specifications. 

“Everything has to work in our environment,” Shafer-Rater says, “which means we sometimes have to write new code to supplement the vendor code.  In some cases, we are required to install specified software to meet federal/state standards for measuring and reporting purposes. We also have to pay attention to software upgrades, as well as, when that software is scheduled to be phased out – it is always an ongoing process.” 

That ongoing process, of course, is part of a larger effort to help faculty and staff across campus with their own laptops, desktops and printers, along with the accompanying software, as part of an operation that reaches to nearly every corner of the university—even the sewers. 

Last updated: Jan. 18, 2023