Dan Rich - San Jose
Image courtesy of the San Jose State University Department of Meteorology

After three years in New Jersey, I had the chance to move back to Ohio and take a job with RMS Technologies working as a Contractor at NASA Lewis Research Center, now known as the Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field.

My primary focus at Lewis was the distributed server team. This project was designed to provide medium-sized file servers to various research groups around the lab. These servers had to provide some level of administration to the local division sysadmins, while not giving them carte blanch to do with them as they pleased. They also needed to integrate back into the computer services divisions' central file servers.

In addition to the file servers, the group I was a part of was responsible for supporting all of the Unix systems at NASA Lewis. While we didn't administrate the individual systems, we were responsible for developing the base configuration for each operating system and developing configuration guidelines for the systems. We had one indiviual responsible for Solaris, one for AIX, and I was responsible for IRIX.

Working on a government site is unusual, especially as a contractor. All of the stories you may have heard about working for the government all all true to some extent. You regularly have to dig through multiple layers of management to get anything done, and even then you are likely to end up with something completely different from what you originally requested. You are likely to end up supporting just about every piece of hardware ever made, as each project has their own budget and to some extent free range in how to spend it. Priorities vary wildly from division to division, so what was critical yesterday may be at the bottom of your list tomorrow.

Still, with all of that taken into consideration, I enjoyed my time at NASA. The work was challenging, and for the most part, you could see the results of supporting the various users around the lab. I know that in some part my work contributed to advances in batteries, deicing systems on airplanes, space shuttle experimental data collection, and some unknown number of other projects.

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