By Dani Moritz-Long
The intricacies of a senior network administrator’s job description can be difficult to digest, particularly for those of us who cringe at the site of error codes and default to rebooting and crossing our fingers as a solution for every technological meltdown. Fortunately, Michael O’Loughlin has a simple way to explain his job to the masses: “I solve computer network problems that users don’t know they have, in ways most wouldn’t understand”.
While funny and perhaps on the satirical side, it’s also a valid description for Michael’s role at Valencia. Essentially, Michael supports the College’s network infrastructure, ensuring our services like Wi-Fi, internet access and email work as seamlessly as possible. It may be a background role, as Michael describes it, but the impact of his work affects all of us and maintains the College’s ability to sustain operations.
That’s why a year ago, when Central Florida was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Michael was pivotal in getting the College back online (in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word). When one of Valencia’s generators failed, Michael had to travel to West Campus to assess damage and resolve technological issues, despite dealing with power outages and damage at his own home. This kind of support, however, is par for the course, as Michael explains his job often entails overnight shifts to resolve network outages and ensure the best possible experience for Valencia students, faculty and staff.
Michael, however, doesn’t mind. In fact, he thrives on the challenge of developing solutions to support Valencia’s needs.
“This job gives me a lot of latitude to be creative in my solutions,” he explained. “I enjoy the creativity, the challenge and the enterprise-level thinking.”
Plus, Michael explains, his aptitude for technological troubleshooting stems from a passion for problem-solving.
“I’ve been like this [analytical] since I was 5 years old,” he said. “My parents identified the skill in me early on. My parents bought me a radio and electronic sets that I could take apart and put back together to keep me from dismantling appliances around the house.”
Laughing, he said, he would pick up household items, take them apart and attempt to fix them, however, his 10-year-old self lacked the technical proficiency to actually fix the problems he created. Fortunately, for Valencia, Michael now spends his time resolving technical issues for the College community instead of creating them, and his skill/dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.
John Knights, managing director, network infrastructure and information security services, said, “Michael’s consistency shows his dedication and commitment toward not only working on continuous improvements of our extensive college network, but also responding to and resolving issues as they arise. IT is a team sport, and Michael is a standout player.”
Similarly, Ken Rivera, director, network and infrastructure services, noted, “Enterprise networking is not for everyone. In addition to experience, it requires a potent mix of ownership, work ethic and persistence. Approximately 4,000 employees and over 65,000 students engage in technology-supported experiences, all of which are dependent on the Valencia network. That is the weight of our network. Michael brings that mix and shares it freely; he carries that weight daily. It motivates his incident response, peer mentorship and invaluable contribution to OIT’s strategic vision.”
Outside of work, you’ll find Michael spending time with his wife, computer programming professor Fialishia O’Loughlin, and his son, a Valencia student studying music. You can also catch him cooking up some gourmet dishes (a hobby he picked up from his grandfather who was a cook during his 21-year tenure in the Air Force). He also enjoys working with his wife on their non-profit called Kingdom Technology Outreach, which is an initiative designed to connect other non-profit organizations with the technological tools they need.
“You can’t just have a curiosity for technology, you have to have a love for it,” says Michael. “If you love technology, when the job gets hard, you’ll still want to do it.”
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.