Repairs neglected in student labs

By Jackie Hong

Even with the air conditioning working on the fourth floor of the George Vari Engineering and Computer Centre, it’s too warm to be able to wear even a light sweater in the graduate research lab in the north corner of the building.

The enormous amount of heat coming off the computers running simulations and from the server tucked behind the back wall of ENG 402 is pushing the temperature inside to uncomfortably high levels whenever the air conditioning breaks down – and, according to frustrated students, it breaks down often.

What students find more riling is the time it takes for maintenance workers to fix the problem.

“They just need to reset the system, it’s the flip of a switch,” said Shaui Peker, who is currently working on his masters of applied science. ”But it takes them almost a day, sometimes two [to respond]. By then, it feels like plus-30 in the lab.”

Escaping the heat isn’t easy; the doors to the lab trigger an alarm if they’re open too long and there are no windows in the room to allow heat to escape, Peker added. The software that students use is only installed on the computers in that room, so relocating isn’t an option.

It’s not just the cooling system, either. When the fluorescent bulb over Alaa Abdullah’s cubicle in the lab stopped working, the thirdyear PhD student in electrical and computer engineering filed a repair request. After a week of waiting, Abdullah, a licenced electrician, decided to replace to light himself.

Maintenance workers didn’t show up until a month later.

The Ryerson Theatre School (RTS) building also has its share of heating and repair problems. However, Peter Fleming, the RTS production and operations manager said maintenance workers respond to repair requests in good time.

“We have a very a good relationship with [campus maintenance] and they accommodate us all the time,” Fleming said. “We just need to put in our requests.”

He understands when some repairs take longer to respond to; while Ryerson’s campus has expanded, the size of the maintenance team has stayed the same.

Adrian Williams, manager of maintenance and operations at Ryerson Campus Facilities and Sustainability, said factors like whether the parts needed for the repair are available can affect response times.

“Generally we manage the workloads well,” Williams said in an email, “[But] during certain times of the year we are stretched, [like during] vacations… as the university continues to expand I’m sure we will as well.”

Abdullah thinks that an understaffed team is no excuse for neglected repairs.

“This [lack of staff] is not my problem,” Abdullah said. “We are students, we pay tuition… We need this service.”

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One Comment;

  1. Jason Naughton said:

    I would like to address a few misconceptions with this article:

    1) The photo at the top of this article is not ENG402 which this article tends to be almost completely about.

    2) As I’m one of the network administrators I can confidently state, there is no “enormous amount of heat coming off … the server tucked behind the back wall of ENG 402 is pushing the temperature inside to uncomfortably high levels” as there are no servers running in this lab.

    3) Again as I am one of the network admins administrating the facilities supporting the graduate program, I can confidently state the “software that students use” is accessible over 200+ systems spanning two floors. So the comment that the “software is only installed on the computers in that room, so relocating isn’t an option” is also incorrect.

    Now I’m not in any way affiliated with Campus Planning in any way, but I was aware that campus planning did correct a heating and ventilation problem that was due to a failed piece of equipment that was installed in the ceiling space. Yet the maintenance was delayed in ENG402 as the room was occupied by Graduate students. The work was to be done in the ceiling space over a number of graduate work areas. So these areas needed to be cleared away before work could commence.

    The only statement in this article that I could actually agree with was: “What students find more riling is the time it takes for maintenance workers to fix the problem”. From their limited scope this could appear to be the case.

    The eyeopener staff really should do a bit more in depth investigating and produce statements that corroborate their sources.

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