ITS Student Tech, Ben Sihota, Finds Order in Chaos

July 29, 2021

Written by ITS Communications Coordinator and UCSC Legal Studies Student, Jane Tobias.

Ben image

Ben Sihota, an ITS student technician for UCSC Residential Networking (ResNet), was recently invited to present at the annual ResNet Inc. Student Technology Conference in June 2021. This is a huge achievement and honor being the only student presenter!

ResNet Inc. is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and research of technology support that focuses on aligning educational and student technologies. 

This is the same conference that our previous ITS student technicians Vanesa Gaspar and Ryan Schouweiler were awarded the Senti-Merriman scholarships that enabled them to attend conferences at Western Carolina University and University of Colorado Boulder respectively. It is also the conference UCSC was scheduled to host in 2020 before the pandemic, so hopefully we will be hosting summer 2022. Here’s information

Ben Shares his Expertise

Like the ITS student technicians who came before him, Ben joined the ITS ResNet team during his junior year at UCSC. Now, in his senior year, he will be a lead technician. As a lead technician and Computer Science & Cognitive Science major, Ben has both practical and theoretical knowledge to share, making him the ideal candidate to present at the Student Technology Conference. His presentation, "A Connection To Remote Troubleshooting" focused on the challenges that ResNet faced and overcame during the last year. 

Ben explained that, “like many, in response to COVID-19, we had unexpected changes thrown our way and were able to work through most of them by developing pragmatic interpersonal approaches and technical solutions. UCSC's ResNet team has a unique structure when compared to other universities, and I felt like it would be worth sharing.”

ResNet’s Unique Structure

Drawing of slug on phone

Ben credits the success of their new remote troubleshooting strategies to the ResNet team’s unique structure. The UCSC ITS ResNet team makes little distinction between professionals and student technicians. Instead student workers are treated as equals. Managers support student technicians by providing oversight while prioritizing their creative freedom and agency to develop new systems and strategies that improve client services. Seeing that ResNet serves student populations, this dynamic empowers student workers to channel their unique perspectives and personal experience to come up with innovative solutions. 

ResNet’s success developing and implementing a remote response system over the last year is, in great part, due to the creative ideas that student techs came up with. The technical and interpersonal solutions they developed will stay in place moving forward making student technicians a valued part of the ResNet team and an underused resource for the department. 

- Slug graphic designed by ITS staff member, Sarah Do

Finding Order in Chaos

Reflecting on the past year Ben characterized his work in the ResNet team as finding order in chaos. 

“When the pandemic started and the ResNet team abruptly shifted to providing support remotely we were clamoring to diagnose issues remotely. Now, there is a tried and true system in place and new troubleshooting strategies that have improved the client experience overall.” 

As a student technician Ben has contributed to the ITS ResNet team in unique and impactful ways, enhancing the work we do here at UCSC and sharing that invaluable work with higher education institutions throughout North America. This fall, as a lead technician, he'll be involved in hiring and training new technicians - another opportunity for him to share his experience and expertise. 

If you're interested in learning more about the technical and interpersonal remote troubleshooting strategies developed by the ResNet team, you can take a look at Ben’s presentation slides here.