Zero to root in 12 months: Training and Utilizing Student Administrators in Higher Education

Short Form


In this session you will learn how the Computer Action Team teaches the next generation of system administrators.


At Portland State University’s Computer Action Team (CAT) we provide a wide variety of services (direct and remote login machines with nfs homedirs, web, mysql, postgres, project management, version control, collocation, virtualization, storage, backup, GPU through cuda, CAD tools) to the more than five thousand students at the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. We do this with a small set of full time administrators and a small army of students who we train up from literally nothing to becoming fully fledged(and fully rooted) members of the *nix, windows, and networking teams. In this talk we will present our methods and lessons including our teaching format, how we provide graduated access and responsibility through git and puppet, and our answers to the challenges faced by any IT department in higher education today.

Speaking experience

Our previous speaking experience is at theCAT's braindump program, pdxdevop's meetings, and BeaverBarCamps.

Barcamp Slides:

This talk will also be given at Cascadia IT 2013 :