Tāmaki Innovation Campus


THE IT ENGINE ROOM


Bronwyn Holcombe
Senior IT Support Specialist Bronwyn Holcombe

From everything IT through to the creative side of Tāmaki Campus, senior IT support specialist Bronwyn Holcombe has just about seen it all, in her 18 years on campus.

Providing the backroom support that enables the business of the Campus to run smoothly sees Bronwyn and her colleagues look after the functioning of all of the IT equipment (both software and hardware), including mobile phones, printers and network communications.

Her journey was helped by a post graduate diploma in Computer Science (after qualifications in Applied Maths). “I used to code software for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and Kodak but when I went back to work after 10 years at home with children the computing scene had changed so much, I moved into IT support,” she says.

Reflecting on earlier days, Bronwyn says there was once a much larger IT contingent at Tāmaki. “We supported individual departments within a Faculty, whereas now we provide support across the entire campus, which has included up to four faculties as well as Uniservices,” she says.

“A lot of services are now centralised like email, network storage drives and software delivery. We used to individually install software via CDs or heaven forbid, floppy disks. Occasionally I would have to get the 10 SAS CDs sent out from the city and then return them via internal mail. Now, video conferencing allows for PhD orals to happen from anywhere in the world.”

She says staying up to date with technology, let alone ahead of the game is always challenging. “Working at the Tāmaki Campus comes with a strong feeling of community. Because we are a remote site, we were often overlooked and had to be a bit DIY. I maintained a Tamaki building by building asset/person register because we had no direct access to the city information. Without this list there would have been much quarterly lease-return angst. Screens regularly wander off to connect to other computers, and prior to the advent of the all-in-one computer, hunting down monitors was a regular pastime!

“Every year for the Diploma of Clinical Psychology intake, we ran a user-friendly one-hour laptop and IT personnel familiarisation session. This proved a great kick start for those PhD students. There has always been a lot of goodwill here from the support staff. I have enjoyed helping in the completion of many PhD theses. One very grateful research student needed us to troubleshoot why her research software wouldn’t work. In the end we installed it on a very old version of Windows to get her working (contrary to the policy at the time). Assisting academics and students to get on with their research is very rewarding,” says Bronwyn.

The supportive and social atmosphere of Tāmaki has been strong. She recalls campus art tours, planting days, movie nights, vegie garden weeding, monthly social gatherings after interesting academic talks, and sculpture commissioning. 

“I knew the permanent gardeners until their work was contracted out, and have enjoyed watching the nikaus and pohutukawas flourish. I saw the windowless data centre be built, ironically, on a site with the best views of Tāmaki estuary. And my wine tasting group had its inception at Tāmaki. We still meet a decade later though most members no longer work here.”