Infrastructure logistics

You know, they tell you this, but you just don't realize it at the time. Infrastructure logistics are a b!tch.

We even HAVE a team of people who take care of things like electrical wiring, moving large objects, unpacking giant machines from boxes, dealing with ventilation ductwork. And I even DID get in touch with them before I got here to try to get some balls rolling and figure out how to configure everything in the lab. BUT STILL the half of it was not realized until I was in the space, personally and physically. All this stuff comes up that you can't really visualize from afar.

If you work on anything that involves any kind of instrument larger than a small benchtop shaker (e.g. things like bigger, refrigerated centrifuges, cold storage equipment like fridges and freezers, MASS SPECTROMETERS or HPLCs, floor-model centrifuges, lyophilizers), it is a REALLY GOOD IDEA to make sure you have time for a logistical visit to your new space wherein you walk around and:

1. measure footprints out in the space (will my cold storage units all fit in that corner I think would be perfect for them? What sizes of tables do I need for my HPLCs to sit on with their computers? Where can the tables fit?)

2. count the number of wall outlets, find out if they are 220V or 115V and which of those you need for various instruments, and find out what kind of amperage your 115V outlets can handle--you'd think this is something you would automatically think of but I must be particularly daft, I have found it is easily overlooked when you're all excited about your new lab.

3. Find out the name, face and phone number of the buildings contact for any electrical or physical jobs you need sorted in your space before you try to put stuff there. Seriously, again this is probably something everyone MEANS to do but it is one that can REALLY make your life easier if you do it beforehand rather than after you arrive.

4. Find out the "Your U Way" that IT and grant things get done. Know names, faces and phone numbers or emails of those people who can help you get your computer networked and get your grant transfer sorted out in an emergency right quick, and find these out BEFORE you get on campus.

These people can either solve all your problems with a smile and a nod, or they can make everything a helluva lot worse. This is why it is SO important to cultivate good relationships with the support teams in your department. Don't think of them as if they are inferior to you, and DEFINITELY don't treat them that way. Whether physical, IT or administrative, these are the people that make your life run smoothly. Who make it so you only have to scramble and pull your hair out a LITTLE, and not chronically, hopelessly, alone.

2 thoughts on “Infrastructure logistics

  1. Two points:(1) Time in an academic environment passes at a very different pace than in a corporate environment.(2) It is good to treat *every* person you come in contact with respectfully and with complete acknowledgment of their participation in the academic mission of your institution. This is for three reasons, the most important of which is that only asshole douchewackers treat people differently depending on their perceived status. The second reason is that treating people like human beings is fun. The third, least important, reason is that when you treat people like human beings--and not like cogs in a machine--they *want* to be helpful to you.

  2. I'm finding at Current University that people are a lot more respectful towards their infrastructure support than at Previous University. It's a nice change--there were some very petty, childish, superior attitudes at my last place. I like being in a place where everyone smiles at each other in the hallways and askss nicely for help on things rather than demanding it.

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