Live Streaming of HMC Commencement 2011

On May 15th of 2011, Harvey Mudd College streamed its commencement ceremonies for the first time. With the successful collaboration of multiple teams, it went very well from the start of the preparations to the end of the event. We thank all those who worked tirelessly to make this first step as smoothly as possible.

Judy Augsburger, Senior Director of Advancement Communications, wrote about her impressions that:

I was delighted with our first livestream of commencement. The three camera shoot was well directed and the footage looked lovely. We had a total of 278 views during the ceremony, which was more than I thought we would get given that our main promotional efforts were geared towards the families of graduates, of which we had just 178.

It was rewarding for me to get a phone call at the start of the ceremony from a grandparent who was trying to access the livestream to see his grandson graduate. I talked him through some rudimentary browser features (now I know I’m not cut out for computer support services!) until he could see the ceremony. He was quite happy for the opportunity to watch his grandson get a diploma live.

A real advantage for our office of livestreaming commencement is that the video is recorded and saved in the livestream archive, and available to upload immediately. We posted it quickly to our YouTube channel and within four days it already had 481 views. We couldn’t have posted it so quickly if we had needed to go through all the footage and edit it; editing takes quite a bit of time. So we are pleased that we could provide the video quite quickly to those who couldn’t watch it live, but wanted to watch it soon after and experience some of the excitement and joy of the moment.

And about the technical aspects of the commencement live streaming prep and production, our Media Services Technician, James Sadler, reported that:

Streaming was done using and was done in standard definition. University of La Verne’s LV3TV camera and production crew were brought in to handle the three camera production and mixing. Audio was handled, as usual, by Nelson Sound and they gave the LV3TV crew a drop from their mixer board. This allowed Michael Meyka to watch over the whole production and James Sadler to make sure the streaming end of everything was up and running consistently.

The LV3TV team received a network drop coming out of the McAllister building next to the commencement site. The network connection was thoroughly tested by CIS staff members on Friday the 13th to make sure it was strong and didn’t hit any firewall issues. On the following Saturday, an actual stream was tested to verify again that everything would work properly. After trying a few different options, they decided that using a PC laptop with Wirecast 4.1 installed to send the video to was the best solution.

During the commencement, the stream went extremely smoothly with no hiccups or issues. Here are a few stats from the live stream: peak number of viewers: 77, total number of live views: 278, number of countries viewed in: 10, and replays to date (05/18/2011): ~200.

The commencement video is available on HMC’s YouTube channel.

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Welcome Mitch Shacklett

Please welcome Mitch Shacklett to the CIS team. If you have the opportunity to get to know Mitch a little, you will quickly learn that he does not shy away from a challenge.  In fact, he once built a house high in the Colorado Rockies during the dead of winter.   The falling snow did not dissuade him, nor did the temptation of excellent snow skiing conditions.

When Mitch is not glued to his computer screen, he is racing dirt bikes across the deserts of the Southwest, climbing in Joshua Tree, mountain biking in Durango, or snow skiing in Silverton. Can you keep up?

Mitch is a carne asada burrito connoisseur, who is on a mission to find the best burrito. His taste testing to date has Filibertos of Mesa AZ and Juanita’s Drive-In of Claremont CA tied.  Feel free to send him a recommendation.

This well balanced Director of Systems and Network will be leading our computing environment toward the best standards, while advancing our technical services.

Welcome Cindy Abercrombie to CIS

This month we welcome Cindy Abercrombie as the newest member of the CIS staff. Cindy has worked on many interesting projects over the years but participating in the conversion of an old navy building into a state-of-the-art Internet data center stands out the most. The old navy building had tunnels to the sea wall and artillery buried in the basement. Pillars in the data center basement were cut and jacked up 20 inches to allow for the insertion of a ball and cup device that allowed the building to roll 18” in any direction.  This amount of building movement required an open channel, 2 foot wide, around the building and flexible connectors to city utilities.  The building also had 10 generators on the roof that relied on flywheels producing kinetic energy as an interim source of power (rather than batteries) if there was a loss of utility power.  There was also a 100,000 gallon water tank installed under the building for the cooling system, in case an earthquake ruptured water mains. As the new Director of Projects and Planning  Cindy will put such experiences to good use.

When Cindy is not working on information technology projects she spends her time with her kids working on LEGO projects, talking about books, and watching their sporting events. She also seems to have good luck at the casinos. She won royal flush on video poker machines three times.

Parsons Lab closure

In Spring 2009, when we first got groups of students, faculty and staff together to discuss the renovation of the Parsons computer labs, we did not imagine that one day the result would be the Learning Studio in Sprague.  We’ve received tremendously good feedback about the Learning Studio and we are looking forward to implementing some of your suggestions over the summer.

One part of the 2010 agreement that resulted in our obtaining most of the first floor of Sprague for the Learning Studio was that a different use would be made of the Parsons lab space. Fast forward to today and we have work on a new building scheduled to start in August.  When Thomas-Garrett is torn down there’ll be a pressing need for temporary classroom space.  So the old Mac and PC labs in Parsons will be dedicated to classroom space.

CIS staff (Elizabeth Hodas, Calvin Tong and Andy Davenport) discussed this with ASHMC earlier in the Spring semester, and we’ve received feedback from some students that expressed some concerns:

  • fewer computers available in total
  • laptops are not as good as desktops for some kinds of work and definitely not as good for gaming
  • the dual monitors and furniture layout in Parsons are very conducive to group work

After discussing this with the students, with David Dower (AVP for Planning and Construction) and with the Presidents Cabinet, we have formulated the following plan:

  • We will ensure that there are dual monitors in the LAC lab.
  • We will move some Windows PCs (with regular keyboards and mice, and dual monitors) into the Learning Studio.
  • We will make laptops more readily available in the Learning Studio and possibly in the LAC (in total, there are far more computers available now than there were when we just had the two Parsons labs).
  • To cover end of semester peaks in usage, we will make more laptops available during the run up to finals.
  • We remind you that the furniture in the Learning Studio is designed to be moved around, so you can arrange it however you like to support your work.

We hope that these plans will allow students to continue enjoying academic work and gaming in the Learning Studio. We would also be delighted to place computers in the Platt Living Room too, if students want that.  Just keep giving us feedback about the labs and what works or doesn’t work.

I want to thank Ben Freeland ’11 for bringing some of the concerns to my attention.




Our series, A Bite of Learning,  is intended to foster innovation.  In October 2010, Ryan Muller ’11 and Neal Pisenti ’11, approached us about doing a presentation on a project they’d been working on.  It was Learnstream, an application for creating lecture notes around YouTube video content.  Their pilot version was built around Francis Su’s Real Analysis Class.  This was one of our more popular Bite of Learning presentations.

You can see how the current version of Learnstream works at

Since then, Ryan and Neal have been working very hard on the project and CIS has been supporting them where we can.  Together Ryan, Neal and I applied for an Educause Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, although we were disappointed in that effort.  Working with Jeff Burkett ’11 and Chandler May ’11, they added social networking features to the application over winter break.  They showed Learnstream to Bill Gates when he was here, and he found it “stimulating”.  

As soon as Commencement is over, they will be working hard on a rewrite of the application and on developing content for material to support high school students who are preparing for the AP Physics C exam.  This work will be funded by a Shanahan grant and CIS funds.

This is quite a success story from one Bite of Learning presentation!  Got a project you’d like to present?  If so, get in touch with Elizabeth Hodas or with me (


April 2011 update from the CIO

April, with its build up to the end of the Spring semester, is always a cruel and hectic month.  Now that May is here, and those wonderful Projects and Presentation days are behind us, you may have time to read this brief update.

New Directors
Two new Directors, Cindy Abercrombie and Mitch Shacklett, joined CIS at the start of May.  Mitch will  oversee systems and network; Cindy will lead IT Projects and Planning.  Read more at

Vulnerability Scanning
We did two waves of vulnerability scanning in April, which gave us a good indication of where the servers are on the network.  We are now analyzing that data and will be getting in touch with the managers of those servers to arrange deeper vulnerability scanning.  We also met with representatives of Moss Adams, the College’s financial auditors, who visit every year to examine IT controls.  The visit went well, and we anticipate a report that lists fewer IT control issues this year.  Moss Adams IT will be doing some penetration testing of important systems during the summer (this service is part of the contract with them).  At around the same time, the Computing Committee and the Presidents Cabinet approved drafts of a new password policy for the College. It is under review by the FEC at the moment.  Shout-outs to Timothy Buccheim and Claire Connelly for excellent suggestions for improvements to the draft.

Art in the Learning Studio
Early in the Spring semester, we sent out a call for student art that could be displayed in the Learning Studio.  Students submitted the art really quickly, but I had a hard time finding someone to curate the works.  We finally found someone, and the paintings are on display in time for Commencement.  Please drop by the Learning Studio to see them.  You can read who the artists are at  If you have ideas for future displays, please get in touch with either me or Elizabeth Hodas.

Faculty Meeting
The CIS Management Team, along with Eliot Bush, chair of the Computing Committee, gave presentations at the April Faculty meeting. Elizabeth Hodas wrote about it at  We got some great feedback and encouragement. We were also challenged to provide  more specific data about the number of new services and their quality, as well as information about the use of the ticket system, so we will provide that kind of data on the IT Planning website as well as in future news articles.  Afterwards I got some feedback that led me to believe that my comment about the percent of change may have been misunderstood. Here’s the full story. When the WASC team was here last year, one of them said to me “It is hard to give a timeline when you are going through organizational change, but what about a percentage…are you 10% there, 50% …?”.  I responded that we were about 15% of the way.  The following week I asked the CIS staff the same question, and asked them to write their answer on a piece of paper. The most common response was 25%.  I alluded to this at the Faculty meeting, and said that I think we are now about 20% along the way.  But what does that mean?  Well, it is my job to be out in front with a vision of where we are going and to imagine the targets for change.  But that has to be tempered by the reality that it is hard to bring lasting cultural change to an organization.  Hence the percentage.  But I would be the first to agree that there is room for us to do better at articulating where we are headed and providing hard evidence of our progress toward those goals.

Backing up your data
Do you have a data backup strategy for your home PC and your laptop (or, for that matter, the important data on your HMC workstation)?  If that is one of those questions that make you wish to whistle in the dark, then you would have felt a lot better after Calvin Tong’s Bite of Learning presentation.  Calvin has written it up, with a link to his slides at

Wishing you all the best for finals (seniors, congrats on having finished!) and Commencement.

Art in the Learning Studio

Work submitted by Winnie Ding

In January we sent out a call to students to see if anyone had art work they wanted to display in the learning studio. We got a good response, including works in oil, watercolor as well as digital format. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to find someone who could curate the art works, but I finally did and today the Learning Studio took on a new role as an art gallery.  Please drop by to take a look and let us know if you have ideas for future exhibitions.

I’d like to thank the following people for submitting work:

  • Samuel Meyer
  • Winnie Ding
  • Kim Kilday
  • Samantha Ipser
  • Lillian de Greef
  • Elissa Leonard
  • Julia Matsieva

Thanks to Allison Russell for coordinating the call for submissions.  And a special thanks to Merrilyn O’Neill and Rose O’Neill for curating the work.

update 5/9/2011: over the weekend of May 7, some of the mounting failed; so Merrilyn and Rose are remounting today.

Two new Directors join CIS

I am delighted to announce that on May 2nd, two new Directors came to work at CIS for the first time.

Cindy Abercrombie joins us as our new Director of Information Technology Projects and Planning.  Cindy was most recently Manager of Network Operations at CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California), which operates high speed networks for California’s education and research communities.  She has also worked at AboveNet and Fair, Isaac and Company (which creates FICO scores).  She holds degrees in Electronics and Management.  This is Cindy’s first higher ed position and she will be taking the lead on a number of our IT projects, as well as overseeing administrative operations in CIS.  Cindy is a native Californian and in her spare time she enjoys watching her children play basketball and relaxing in the backyard with her dog.


Our new Director of Systems and Network is Mitch Shacklett.  He comes to us from Fort Lewis College, Colorado where he was most recently Manager of Systems Administration.  Like HMC, Fort Lewis College has a mixed IT environment, so Mitch is knowledgeable about  Windows and Linux server administration.  He holds degrees in Finance and in Education from the University of San Diego. Mitch has a connection with Claremont, as he was born here (although his parents moved when he was very young).  When not deeply immersed in Information Technology, Mitch likes to enjoy the outdoors: snow skiing, mountain biking, surfing and dirt bike riding.

You may recall that our reorganization last summer allowed us to create these new positions.  The search for a Systems and Network Director was a long one, but we did find two new Directors for the price of one search.  Please join me in welcoming them to Harvey Mudd College!

CIS presents at faculty meeting

On April 21, 2011 the CIS management team presented a report on the state of Information Technology to the faculty. Joseph began the presentation with a review of our four strategic directions and our customer service initiative. The four strategic directions are IT Decision Making (Governance), IT Infrastructure, Central IT (CIS), and Innovation. Before presenting examples of projects in each of these four strategic initiatives, Susan Selhorst described the iterative process we went through with the management team and the CIS staff to create our service vision statement.

  • CIS is dedicated to providing excellent client-centered services to the HMC community.
  • We promote the mission of HMC with reliable, innovative, and convenient technology.
  • We provide customer support that is friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive while working collaboratively with clients to develop effective and relevant solutions.
A Bite of Learning
A Bite of Learning

Joseph talked about the gap between what we espouse and what is actual, and how we approach that gap. As an example of initiatives in the area of Central IT, Calvin Tong spoke about the DTA program and introduced the two new staff on the User Support team. In the DTA (Department Technical Analyst) program individual staff in the User Support group are assigned to specific departments. This allows the DTAs to become very familiar with the needs of each department.  Elizabeth Hodas talked about the A Bite of Learning series as an example of innovation. The series focuses on introducing new and emerging technology to the HMC community in an informal lunch setting. Joseph continued with a discussion of how IT decisions are being made and some examples of the different sourcing models we are using. He concluded with a description of the planned email and calendar migration. Questions after the presentation focused mostly on the email and calendar migration.

MATLAB Seminars for Mudders

In April, CIS offered a series of MATLAB seminars to HMC community.  There were five seminar meetings covering three different topics: basic MATLAB programming, advanced MATLAB programming and parallel processing with Parallel Processing Toolbox.

Basic MATLAB programming seminars taught by Jeho Park at CIS covered fundamental, yet essential, MATLAB programming skills for MATLAB beginners. The seminar participants enjoyed creating function m-files and supporting documents. The basic MATLAB seminar attracted many freshmen who wish to prepare themselves for the courses that require MATLAB programming skills. CIS plans to offer additional basic MATLAB seminar classes in early fall semester for those who missed the April seminar meetings. So please stay tuned.

CIS also invited the MathWorks Senior Application Engineer, Doug Eastman, to HMC campus to discuss advanced MATLAB programming topics. The MathWorks on-site seminar discussed how to make use of different MATLAB functions and memory allocation methods for a better computing performance. The presenter also introduced MATLAB parallel processing features that may lead to a significant performance improvement for some number crunching applications. The seminar was very helpful for those who seek ways to improve performance of their MATLAB codes.

For future MATLAB seminars at HMC, we welcome your suggestions for topics:

MATLAB Seminar Topic Suggestion Form

MathWorks MATLAB Seminar MathWorks MATLAB Seminar (3)