GSD Computer Resources OVERVIEW
This page provides a brief overview of the computing and information technology infrastructure at the GSD, and provides links to pages detailing relevant principles and policies which guide the development, and use, of these resources.
The major elements of the GSD's computing infrastructure include:
- Pedagogic motivation and objectives
- Human Resources (People)
- Internal Local Area Network
- Hardware Resources
- Software Resources
- Library and Research Center
- Policies and Procedures
- News - Time-sensitive announcements and current updates from Computer Resources.
- Policies -- The guiding principles and explicit policies that govern computer use.
The goal of the Computer Resources Group (CRG) is to support the best possible environment for learning and doing computer-aided design. That means creating and maintaining an infrastructure that makes computing -- and information technology in general -- readily available anytime and anywhere within the GSD, in a way that supports the wide variety of learning styles and personal preferences that characterizes the Design School. Computing, whether to calculate beam strength, analyze housing patterns, map species habitats or make 3D models for visualization, should be integrated into the creative design processes -- it should not be disruptive or be segregated. In practice, this means distributing resources physically and virtually throughout the school, and beyond, to support both individual and group creativity and learning. Technological means and feasibility constraints are always viewed in deference to pedagogic goals, which may change over time. Faculty, staff and students help to guide the evolution of the infrastructure maintained by the CRG, and the digital content explored in studios, thesis projects and research. For a current listing of coursework offered at the GSD see the on-line bulletin. If you have questions or comments about the computer-aided design pedagogy or computing infrastructure, email the Director of Computer Resources.
Even more important than any of the computing machinery provided at the GSD are the staff of the Computer Resources Group, the people who manage and maintain all of these diverse resources. These Information Technology professionals have specialties and special responsibilities within the organization, but all are dedicated to making the computer infrastructure, and computing experience, excellent. Some teach courses within the academic departments; some work mostly behind the scenes to keep essential services running; some manage the 'frontlines' of the HelpDesk. To find any of them in person, please come to Room 520, at the south end of the fifth floor of Gund Hall. Other people who help make computing work are in the Loeb Library and other locations throughout the campus.
The principal physical infrastructure maintained by the CRG is the Local Area Network, which connects central servers and services (high powered computers, large disks, and internet connections) to every student desk, faculty office, classroom and presentation space, as well as to a wide array of distributed facilities including labs, printers, scanners and others. This network of high speed wired and wireless connections throughout Gund Hall and Sumner Road buildings, reaches through Harvard University and the commercial internet to remote locations.
A primary purpose of the Local Area Network is to connect students' individual machines to central resources, so most of the computer workstations at the GSD are privately owned and maintained by students. There is one teaching classroom (Room 516) and several smaller clusters of public computers, as well as, 'Internet kiosks', equipped for web browsing and email, in the hallways and in the library. Specialized equipment such as digital video editing facilities and CAD/CAM equipment, are located in separate rooms, in the basement of Gund Hall.
The CRG maintains an active inventory of current software, for Windows and Mac OS computers, which are freely available to students for use on their computers within Gund Hall. (These programs are protected by 'KeyServer' technology, so that they will not work when the computer is disconnected from the GSD network.) Over 100 different professional software tools including 2D and 3D modeling (CAD), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), as well as image processing, desktop publishing, animation and rendering, calculation, and others are available at all times. Some software are unavailable from teh vendor for network licesning, and so must be provided by individual students.
The Loeb Library on the ground floor and lower level of Gund Hall provides computer access to a wide range of research sources and scholarly material. The Instructional Technology Group, housed in the library, offers assistance to faculty and students wishing to explore the effective use of computing in their classes. Several faculty and other 'centers' at the GSD conduct research and pursue projects in the large area of design computing.
With so many different actors, and resources, combined together into a web of remarkable complexity, it is necessary to establish some basic ground rules for network users to understand; these rules are a minimum set which enable safe, reliable and secure computing while providing for a maximum of opportunity for creative expression. The basic policies include:
"You are responsible for your own computer and its maintenance; Computer Resources staff can help, but you have the primary responsibility."
"Your network user account and password are valuable privileges extended to you; they are not to be shared or abused."
"Conduct within a computer network is governed by the same rules of civil respect for others that govern everyday life within Harvard University."
"Network security is an important consideration; sometimes Computer Resources staff must make decisions that protect the security and productivity of the majority of computer users at the expense of some smaller number or particular activity."
For a more detailed list of policies, please see Policies.