Table of Contents
Click on the carats within each objective to read more about a specific ITS project
Enhance the comprehensive educational experience
►►Upgrading classroom audiovisusal equipment
►►Relocating the digital accessibility lab
►►Supporting the Stark Performance Center project
►►Bringing cyber security awareness to students
►►Connecting students with Adobe Creative Cloud
►►Participating in student orientation events
►►Boosting internet in residence halls
Enable our partners in research
►►Removing barriers with a new high performance computing interface
►►Merging HPC cluster resources for greater computing power
►►Aligning the Durham Data Center with standards from NIST
►►Documenting security plans for research funding
Deliver and support high-quality enterprise services
►►Migrating virtual server infrastructure
►►Assisting ISU Foundation's move to Salesforce
►►Keeping the university cyber secure
►►Supporting student information systems
►►Expanding virtual meeting services
►►Transitioning to a new e-signature tool
►►Helping to implement retirement savings tool
Enrich the ITS employee and customer experience
►►Providing on-campus tech support
►►Launching the Digital Accessibility Policy
►►Using softphones to Increase Collaboration
►►Growing the ISU Portal
►►Introducing One Button to Push technology
►►Developing a hybrid work pilot
►►Sharing important messages
Message from the CIO
- Campus partner
From student learning — to digital accessibility — to research computing — ITS is focused on being the trusted campus partner that enables excellence in education, research, outreach and university operations.
As the university’s core provider of secure, relevant and sustainable technology services and solutions, we strive to bring solutions that benefit and support the university community. The IT Solution Center, available to students, faculty and staff, provides solutions to many technology issues. Always available, the ISU Service Portal provides self-help articles that allow our customers to find a solution at any time.
To ensure network security, teams monitor network activity and implement strategies that prevent unauthorized access to the university’s data and information. Education and awareness regarding cyber security is ongoing to help students, faculty and staff become partners in keeping our networks safe.
As technology needs increase across the university, the necessity for a robust and secure infrastructure is paramount to our success. ITS teams, with support of our campus partners, continue to design and install network infrastructure that can support the many needs of our customers.
With the implementation of the university’s digital accessibility policy, team members continue to lead efforts to ensure equal access for all Cyclones. From the goals outlined in the policy, university staff are being educated on the established criteria, tools are being put into place, and training is being delivered to help engage students, faculty and staff.
Capitalizing on what our teams learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, ITS continues to improve the student experience through in-person, hybrid and online learning technologies. Providing support of these environments has created more options for students to complete their degree programs in a timely fashion, allowed increased access to courses, and provided new opportunities for earning academic credit. During the past year, upgrades were made to more that 60 general use classrooms. These improvements enhance the student educational experience and provided greater flexibility for instructors.
I encourage you to engage with our teams to help you find solutions to your challenges. Working collaboratively, we can continue to provide the tools, services and security necessary for the Iowa State community.
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Objective I: Enhance the comprehensive educational experience
Upgrading Classroom Audiovisual Equipment
Students and faculty now benefit from hybrid audiovisual technology in all general university classrooms used for instruction. The Audiovisual Experience team continued their classroom upgrade efforts that kicked off during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 80% of classrooms used for large lectures use Level One hybrid technology. Students attending online lectures experience a fully-integrated class session through technology like an in-room pan / tilt / zoom camera and microphone that is connected with lecture capture software.
Approximately 60 additional classrooms were also upgraded to Level Two hybrid technology. Level Two technology includes a streamlined setup of a camera and boundary microphone and cables for connecting to the instructor’s device.
Supporting the Stark Performance Center project
The Stark Performance Center for student athletes opened with great success, thanks in part to the construction support provided by the ITS Physical Infrastructure and Network teams. Adjacent to Jack Trice Stadium, the Stark Performance Center serves more than 450 student athletes. The 130,000 square foot, $90 million building is a hub for resources supporting academic achievement, mental and physical wellness, career planning and more. The center's robust network infrastructure includes 102 wireless access points, several thousand strands of campus fiber and 9 network switches to support fast, secure and reliable network connections.
Connecting Students with Adobe Creative Cloud
Students in need of specialized software for coursework gained easier access to the Adobe Creative Cloud platform. The Adobe Creative Cloud includes applications used for graphic design, video editing, web development, photography and more. The Endpoint Technologies team put a process in place to simplify the software licensing process on student devices and computer labs. As a result, students have fewer barriers for accessing tools essential to their education.
Relocating the Digital Accessibility Lab
For greater accommodations and ease of access, the Digital Accessibility Lab supporting students with assistive technology needs moved to Durham 116. The new space, approximately four times larger than the lab’s previous Durham location, can accommodate more people, equipment and devices.
The larger entrance provides easier access for individuals using wheelchairs and other mobility equipment. The space also allows for larger group demonstrations and presentations on assistive technology and accessible gaming.
Bringing Cyber Security Awareness to Students
Information Technology Services launched the first “Be Cyber Aware” campaign to provide students with important cyber security information. More than 14,000 students engaged with the campaign, learning the telltale signs of an email scam and how to report suspicious messages to the ITS Security team. The campaign also educated students about acquiring digital media legally to avoid consequences of digital copyright violations.
Participating in Student Orientation Events
After two years of engaging with incoming students online, ITS participated in several in-person orientation events for new students. Throughout June, employees dedicated 42 in-person staffing hours at the OnCyte Orientation Resource Fair. The fair served over 5,400 incoming students and 7,600 guests. As Cyclones arrived on campus in August, the department also participated in Destination Iowa State with an team-developed cyber security activity and WelcomeFest, which was attended by approximately 3000 students and 100 university and local vendors.
Boosting Internet in Residence Halls
The Physical Infrastructure team wrapped up their project to improve internet connectivity in residence halls. With the project completed, students experience much faster Wi-Fi connection speeds than before. It now takes 1.68 seconds to download 100 photos, versus the 2.6 minutes it took previously. As more courses moved to an online environment, student housing needed stronger bandwidth to support online classes, collaborative environments and streaming. With student input, residence halls with the most reported issues were upgraded first before completing work in remaining halls.
Objective II: Enable our partners in research
Removing Barriers with a New HPC Interface
The High Performance Computing team supports and maintains large-scale computing systems for scientific, business and instructional use at Iowa State University. In early 2022, the team launched the Open OnDemand interface. The intuitive interface helps new users learn how to use high performance computing services.
In high performance computing, most researchers use a standard command line interface. This involves typing commands into a text-based terminal window (for example, “scp,”“emacs” and “cat” for file transfer, editing and printing). Open OnDemand is ideal for users who aren’t yet familiar with line commands.
With Open OnDemand, users can also connect to high performance computing resources through any browser-enabled device.
Aligning the Durham Data Center with Standards from NIST
Located in the lower level of the Durham Center building, the Durham Data Center houses over 1,000 computer servers that support central IT services including university email and file storage, and high-performance research computing on campus. In 2022, the Network and Physical Infrastructure teams upgraded data center security controls and policies to align with National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines. The set of standards, referred to as NIST 800-171, provides best practices and controls for securing sensitive data, helping the university align with specific regulatory compliance requirements.
Merging Cluster Resources for Greater Computing Power
Students using high performance computing resources gained access to greater computing power and faster data processing. In early 2022, the HPC team initiated a project to merge cluster resources that were previously research- or teaching-specific.
Clusters comprise many separate but connected computers, also called “nodes.” Nodes have the same components as a regular laptop or desktop computer – CPU cores, memory and disk space – but are greater in number and are much more powerful. By merging clusters, data is processed more efficiently, for students and for researchers. New, advanced nodes were also installed. The new nodes are ideal for topics in automation (self-driving cars), crop simulations, cell biology and more.
In the 2021-22 alone, nearly 1200 undergraduate and graduate students used HPC resources for academic work. Courses ranging from Design of Aerospace Systems to The Genome Perspective in Biology to Computational Physics incorporated high performance computing into the curriculum.
Documenting Security Plans for Research Funding
During this last year, the ITS Security team assisted university researchers in creating documented security plans. Through these efforts, seven projects were funded directly and 26 project were funded indirectly. The total number of 33 projects that received funding from documented security plans is a six-fold increase from the previous year.
Objective III: Deliver and support high-quality enterprise services
Migrating Virtual Server Infrastructure
Virtual servers at the university allow departments and individuals to run their server workloads without having to manage physical hardware. This could include web hosting, print servers, custom applications, and more.
Through the work of many department teams, ITS migrated 75% of Iowa State’s virtual server infrastructure from on-premises to a cloud platform. By migrating serves to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, customers will have more capabilities and better control of data through self-service options. The move also aligns with the ITS mission to create sustainable technology solutions and leverage options for unified rather than disparate systems.
Keeping the University Cyber Secure
Efforts by the ITS Security team continue to keep the university protected online. During the last year, the team mitigated 498 unique targeted phishing attempts. Through phishing, hackers send malicious emails that attempt to gain money, personal information, control of a device or passwords. The team also reviewed and approved 115 vendors to help ensure that companies working with the university meet cyber security standards.
New Software Provides Greater Security for Student Information Systems
WorkCyte is an Iowa State University program with a mission to modernize the university's enterprise business processes and technology. Many ITS teams supported the WorkCyte program, including the Change Management, Analytics and Reporting, and Workday Operations teams. The teams tackled continuous improvements initiatives and made strides to implement Workday Student.
A cross-department effort between ITS teams and Finance Service Delivery led to the creation of the Finance Officers Report and Tasks, or FORT, dashboard in Workday. The dashboard conveniently compiles Workday reports, tasks and announcements for a group of 200 strategic finance employees at the university. The dashboard also provides links to external sources such as training and policy documents.
Through additional collaborative efforts, ITS teams supported the two biannual releases of Workday enhancements along with launch of the new Workday homepage and the Workday Assistant chatbot.
As for the ongoing Phase II project, approximately 30 department employees continue to directly support the implementation of Workday Student. The project advanced from the planning stage to the architect and configure stage, during which time the campus-wide Change Liaison Network formed, the WorkCyte website underwent a redesign and “Workset A” configuration work was completed.
Assisting the ISU Foundation's Move to Salesforce
ITS teams assisted the Iowa State University Foundation in transitioning from a legacy alumni database to the Ascend application. Ascend integrates with the Salesforce constituent relationship management system. The application is uniquely suited for gift management, supporting the university's efforts to communicate with and engage alumni and friends. With the new system, the foundation continues its mission of matching donor passions with Iowa State University needs.
Expanding Virtual Meeting Services
In continued development of the virtual meeting support fee-for-service, the Audiovisual Experience team acquired a new studio space for managing townhalls, webinars and other university meetings. An array of high-quality equipment in the studio allows team members to manage meetings and create a professional, worry-free experience for organizers and attendees. Throughout 2022, the team supported high profile virtual events hosted by the Office of the President, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, Board of Regents, State of Iowa and more.
Transitioning to a New e-Signature Tool
Adobe Acrobat Sign is an application that can be used route official documents and collect electronic signatures. The Distributed Applications team led the university’s transition from DocuSign to Adobe Acrobat Sign from fall 2021 – summer 2022. As ITS managed the changeover, teams moved document templates in Adobe Acrobat Sign, automatically assigned software licenses, created an automated process for requesting a license and published how-to articles about using the new software.
Implementing a Retirement Savings Tool
ITS assisted in the configuration and launch of Retirement@Work, a tool that simplifies retirement planning for university employees. The tool, managed by University Human Resources, displays an employee’s retirement contributions in a single place, no matter if mandatory or voluntary. The tool also allows employees to sign up for voluntary retirement plans, select a vendor for a voluntary plan, and set or change their voluntary contribution amounts.
Objective IV: Enrich the ITS employee and customer experience
Providing On-campus Tech Support
The IT Solution Center serves as the go-to resource for technology support for Iowa State students, faculty, staff and other members of the university community.
This last year, solution center team members resolved 42,793 help tickets for campus customers. In other words, team members resolved
- 3,566 tickets per month
- 847 tickets per week
- 121 tickets per day...which ultimately equals...
- 1 ticket every 5 minutes
Using Softphones to Increase Collaboration
In Fall 2021, ITS implemented softphone technology in the department. The softphone application allows staff to make telephone calls using a computer with an internet connection and replaced the use of physical phones with handsets.
Softphones increased team collaboration by integrating voice, video, team messaging and voicemail in one tool. Softphones also allowed multiple calls on multiple lines and, being accessible anywhere, facilitated the opportunity for remote work.
The move additionally helped the department decrease expenses by reducing phone service charges and equipment maintenance.
Developing a Hybrid Work Pilot Program
From July – December 2021, ITS launched the Hybrid Work Pilot program for department employees. The program allowed employees whose duties can be performed off campus to work in a fully remote or hybrid capacity.
During the pilot period, regular surveys and evaluation processes measured employee and customer satisfaction. Monthly employee surveys showed a consistently high satisfaction rate with remote or hybrid work arrangements. Customer surveys also indicated a 9 out of 10 satisfaction rating with ITS services and support.
In 2022, ITS received approval to conclude the pilot phase and move forward offering remote and hybrid and work arrangements.
Sharing Important Messages
The Strategic Communications team developed and delivered a variety of messages to inform and educate members of the Iowa State campus community about ITS projects, operations and system enhancements. Relevant must-know technology information was delivered via email, newsletters, social media and web pages to new students and employees. ITS staff welcomed new students at more than 15 in-person orientation sessions and other special events.
Launching the Digital Accessibility Policy
Iowa State University is committed to ensuring the accessibility of electronic and information technology resources used by members of the university community and general public. To solidify this commitment, the Digital Accessibility Policy was made effective February 10, 2022. Members of the Digital Accessibility team collaborated with campus partners to develop a policy that supports the university's mission of teaching, research and service, and is maintained in accordance with relevant federal and state laws. Learn more about Iowa State’s Digital Accessibility Policy.
Growing the ISU Service Portal
The ISU Service Portal is a support hub with how-to articles, a get help form and a catalogue of products and services that can be ordered. In this last year, ITS teams added over 20 new how-to articles to the database. The number of views for all IT-related articles increased by over 200,000 from the previous year.
In addition, several enhancements were made to the portal’s design. On any given how-to article, portal visitors can now see the intended audience, related articles and forms, and more options for giving feedback. For the portal-goer, this means easily determining if an article is meant for them and viewing similar articles that may be helpful.
Introducing One Button to Push Technology
To simplify the process for joining virtual meetings, the Communications and Collaboration and Audiovisual Experience teams implemented One Button to Push technology. With this technology, meeting participants can join a Webex, Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting with a single screen tap or mouse click, instead of typing in long conference IDs. This streamlined solution makes hosting a virtual or hybrid meeting much easier.
ITS Awards and Recognition
Professional and Scientific Council CYtation Award (Individual)
Spencer Braly, Audiovisual Experience team
Emerging Leaders Academy
Jeff Sorensen, Web Development team
Professional and Scientific Council CYtation Award (Team)
Audiovisual Experience team
Iowa State University Student Employee of the Year
Bahar Hashemi, IT Solution Center
Best in Class by AVTechnology
Project: Student Innovation Center classroom in the round
Mike Vinson, Network Infrastructure team
Mike Pedersen, Audiovisual Experience team