Mike R.

WLAN Architect, Platforms & Network Engineering — ISC Technology Services
Mike R. portrait photo

ISC service(s) or programs/projects: Architect for wireless infrastructure on campus, architect for wireless authentication platform ClearPass

Length of time in ISC:  Since May 2021

Previous work experience:  School District of Philadelphia, Manager, Network Operations (13 years!)

Tell us about a challenge at Penn that made you proud to be part of ISC.

In the summer of 2021, right after my arrival, I was part of a big deployment of wireless access points in the College Houses to more than double the previous amount of WiFi coverage. We upgraded all existing access points, and also added 1,400 new access points in a very tight time frame. That was especially crucial given the increased pandemic-related demand for videoconferencing, etc. We needed to collaborate with many groups on campus, including College House Academic Services (CHAS) and Infrastructure Operations. It was a great team effort, and we got it done!

What’s an interesting technical or business problem you’ve faced with ISC?

The lack of automated authentication of wired network ports slows user access to the network. Modifying a port’s configuration currently involves manual changes to network hardware, usually requiring a help ticket. We are planning deployment to automate this process. This is something we’ll roll out to different buildings over time, so we can identify and address any issues as they come up. But we’re intending to have the College Houses completed in soon, so returning students (and the people who support them) will get the benefit.

How has the pandemic changed the way you approach your role?

One of the hardest challenges that I had was starting a new position at a new institution completely remotely. I saw people onscreen, but when I saw them in person, I couldn’t always recognize them! Normally, you meet people the first time in person, walking down the hall, rather than virtually.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

My kids are the perfect age, where they’re not only just starting sports, but becoming their own people in their respective sports. I really enjoy seeing them grow in the sports they’ve chosen. It’s fun to watch, and I do not want to miss one minute of it.

What else would you most like people at Penn to know about you?

I’ve sometimes noticed people giving me an extra glance in the office because they might not recognize me, since I joined ISC during the pandemic. I can sometimes be reserved, but I do really enjoy meeting new people — so please come say “Hi!”