About/Contact

Introduction

Science & Engineering Node Services (SENS) is a group of professional staff who provide computer and related technical support, including the UBiquity distributed computing environment, for the University at Buffalo.

SENS provides support all of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) departments except for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), which has its own support staff and services.

SENS supports the Faculty of Natural Sciences & Mathematics departments in the College of Arts and Sciences:

Services We Provide

  • Customer-oriented, full service support for a community of 7,000 users, offering a suite of services including SENS-specific computer accounts with roaming disk space, timeshare services, email hosting, official and personal web page hosting, consulting, purchasing assistance, and many other such functions.
  • Support for more than 2400 computers, including Intel, Sun, and Macintosh systems running Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X.
  • Support for lab and server facilities, including web servers, server clusters, Intel/Citrix servers, Solaris and Linux timeshare servers, and backup systems.
  • Support for general and user-specific computing in the SENS node in both instructional and research areas.

For a more detailed list of services we provide, please go to our Services page. Also, please note that SENS' services are separate from the central services provided by CIT, although the two groups actively partner in many areas.

Contacting SENS

For the most efficient response please send an email message to senshelp@buffalo.edu, as per the guidelines shown below. Our offices are located on the first floor of Bell Hall, next to the Bell 101 public computing site, and our general phone number is (716) 645-3797. SENS is typically staffed during normal business hours, 8:00 AM — 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. We are on call for emergency situations, but most requests will be processed on the next business day.

For more information on the types of assistance we can provide, please refer to our Assistance page, which details the forms of help we offer and some of the conditions regarding our support levels.

How to submit a request via SENShelp

To submit a support request, please send an email from a University at Buffalo email account (eg. username@buffalo.edu) to senshelp@buffalo.edu. It will help us process your request more quickly if you provide the information we need in your message. Here are some of the things that would be good to include:

  • Your complete name, office or lab location, and telephone number;
  • The name and location of the computer you were using when you had the problem, or for which you are submitting a support request;
  • The date and time that the problem occurred (if applicable);
  • The operating system you were using (if applicable);
  • The software you were using (if applicable);
  • A detailed description of what you were doing when the problem occurred; and
  • Any error messages that you think are related to the problem.

If you are unable to contact us via the above procedure, please feel free to call us on the phone or to visit us. Our main SENS office is located in 103e Bell Hall, and that's a good place to start. Our lab in 114 Bell Hall is another good place to find assistance, and if you have difficulties obtaining assistance please contact the Director, Dave Yearke, by either calling him at (716) 645-2165 or stopping in to his office, 104 Bell Hall.

About SENShelp

SENS uses a support ticket system to process support requests. We realize that many of the people we support like to talk to a real live human being when they're asking a question. Trust us, you will get to talk to a person, but submitting your request through SENShelp will make sure that it's addressed in the most quick and effective way. Here's why:

  • When you send in a SENShelp request, it goes directly to our automated support ticket tracking system. A designated person in SENS is checking the system frequently from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. That means that your request will be looked at and assigned as quickly as possible.
  • The person checking the system is aware of SENS staffing -- who's out sick, who's in an all-day meeting, who's already got a backlog of tickets to process, etc. They also know the expertise of our staff. That means that the person with the appropriate expertise who can get back to you the soonest is the person who is assigned the request.
  • Tracking the kinds of requests we receive as a department helps us make sure that we have adequate staffing in the areas that our users need support.

Our Staff

The staff members of SENS provide support for almost every kind of computer hardware and software at UB. Our staff have a broad range of expertise, from hardware to software to operating systems to server technologies. Our PC specialists are experts at taking apart, repairing, and enhancing all kinds of personal computers, including the latest systems from Dell, IBM, and Apple. Our UNIX specialists have a breadth of expertise that includes hardware and software offerings from Dell, Oracle (Sun), and IBM.

The staff of SENS promote a computing model known as UBiquity, which implements the philosophy that users should be able to get their work done at any kind of computer, under any kind of operating system and application environment, anywhere on campus. This model has continually evolved and grown since it was first envisioned and documented back in November of 1996.

To find out more about our staff, including contact information, please visit our staff page.

The SENS Quality Support Philosophy

The SENS quality support philosophy is based upon a model similar to that of a major research university center, in that all components are interrelated and dependent upon each other. For example: Quality faculty do quality (funded) research, which requires quality graduate students. An institution that is known for this relationship will naturally draw quality undergraduate students who become a pool of prime candidates from which graduate students are drawn. This cycle nurtures the continued growth of the university and assures its status both within the academic marketplace and the community it serves.

Research model diagram

SENS recognizes the importance of all four components of the university academic and research infrastructure. SENS strives to integrate technology and software in such a manner as to make the common and universal components of IT available to the entire academic community. SENS strives to promote both sharing and collective investment in IT across all areas of the university, and specifically within the node and its participant departments. Finally, SENS realizes the importance of ownership and does not discriminate between private and distributed needs when called upon for service, support or consultation.

SENS Support model diagram

History

SENS has "officially" been in existence since 1997, but our legacy is far older. Our group was originally known as "Engineering Computing Services" (ECS), and was formed in 1987 by Corky Brunskill. The original support focus including maintaining a Prime system, a DEC VAX, and other hardware which has since disappeared. The group evolved over the years, gaining expertise in new areas and growing from a staff of about five to a dozen members today, plus our invaluable student staff.

History of this site

We decided to go exploring with the Wayback Machine, and found these examples of how our site has evolved over the years:

By the way, if you see anything on the old sites that you think may still be useful and is not on the current site, please let us know!