Committee to expand digital infrastructure education opportunities

McNally oversees iMasons education programs that allow students to get a behind the scenes look at the field of digital infrastructure management.

Stephen McNally, operations manager of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was recently appointed to serve as Education Committee Chair of the Infrastructure Masons (iMasons) organization.

When iMasons founder Dean Nelson launched the organization in 2016, he described any iMasons member as “a person entrusted with building or managing the physical and logical structures of the digital age.” Such professionals serve as both technological and infrastructure experts bridging the gap between computer systems and the physical resources required to support them. This type of expertise is obtained through a multidisciplinary education that combines both facilities and computer science topics—a curriculum mix that few academic institutions provide.

Through his appointment, McNally looks to continue and expand iMasons’ education mission to introduce students interested in digital infrastructure careers to operations professionals capable of guiding them through the diverse training needed to manage modern-day data centers.

McNally is already quite invested in data center–related education. He has served as a guest lecturer for an innovative undergraduate program, the Datacenter Technology and Management minor, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Jim Serafin, ORNL complex facilities manager, and Mark Dean, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UTK, pioneered the program.

“We’ve had such a great experience with our data center minor program at UT,” McNally said. “It has been really effective at engaging students in the multidisciplinary approach needed to build and operate modern data centers. It opens their eyes to the diverse careers in this fast-growing field, in engineering, business, real estate development, logistics, sales, you name it.”

As chair, McNally will oversee education programs that include data center facility tours for students interested in exploring careers in digital infrastructure. The tours provide students with a firsthand look at the complex relationship between computing systems and facilities management. McNally and his committee also will have a role in developing the iMasons scholarship program.

“One of iMasons’ focuses in 2018 will be to formalize our scholarship program to help prepare students for the many high-paying careers to be found in the digital infrastructure industry,” said Jeff Omelchuck, executive director of iMasons. “Stephen’s leadership to help us identify worthy digital infrastructure programs worldwide will be key to strengthening the college-to-work pipeline.”

McNally noted that several of his colleagues at ORNL have already been on the receiving end of iMasons training and curriculum.

“By serving in organizations such as this, we are ensuring that there is a highly skilled talent pool out there for the future of digital infrastructure,” McNally said.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit