Staff Manual

Staff Manual sbrewer Tue, 03/01/2016 - 10:40

About the BCRC

The Biology Computer Resource Center (BCRC) is a facility that was brought into being by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Dean of the College of Natural Science (CNS). Steven D. Brewer is the Director of the BCRC.

The primary purpose of the BCRC is to support undergraduate life sciences teaching and learning.

The BCRC usually hires undergraduate staff during the first week of the semester. Send email to the Director before Friday of the first week of the semester: please include a brief list of the hours you would be available to be scheduled and whether you have workstudy.


Employment rootlet Tue, 01/15/2019 - 14:34


The minimum requirement for employment in the BCRC is to have a working knowledge of Macintosh computers. Students at the University of Massachusetts are encouraged to apply to the Director for positions that start at $12.00/hour with raises provided at the discretion of Director. Make sure to fill out a time slip indicating the hours you worked for the week so that your hours can be submitted and you can recieve your paycheck. Upon completing and documenting the training activities at the back of the staff manual, your pay will be increased by $0.50 per hour and you will receive a $0.25 per hour pay increase for each semester of service you complete after completing the training materials. You must complete the training materials by the end of the first semester of your employment to be eligible to continue at the BCRC.

Employees are expected to:

  • Arrive to work in a timely fashion
  • Present a professional aspect suitable for interacting with students, faculty, and staff
  • Check their email regularly for updates regarding operations and procedures
  • Follow the procedures outlined in this manual; and generally conform to the policies outlined in the UMass Academic Policies ( and the OIT Acceptable Use Policy ( Failure to comply with these standards and guidelines may be grounds for suspension or dismissal.

It's your primary responsibility to monitor 311 Morrill III. Unlock the door when you arrive. Make sure both doors are closed and locked when you leave, if the facility will be unattended.

There are also basic tasks involved in running a computer lab:

  • Clean and maintain the equipment as well as the room
  • Replace printer paper
  • Fix printer problems
  • Answer questions
  • Update schedules
  • Flatten empty paper boxes and leave outside the room
  • Empty hole-puncher
  • Re-fill stapler or tape dispenser

It is most convenient for the consultant working Monday mornings to print out the weekly Reservation Schedule and post it on the door so that students may see what times classes will come in for the upcoming week.

It is the responsibility of each and every member of the staff to ensure that these tasks are done in a timely manner. If there is a mess on the desk or papers on the floor, clean it up. Everyone at the BCRC would not want to work in a dirty computer lab.

Occasionally, the BCRC will conduct staff meetings. At these meetings the Director will discuss changes and new directions in the BCRC. Staff input into the operation and management of the BCRC is always welcome. If you have questions or concerns, you are encouraged to bring them to the attention of the Director.

Staff are particularly encouraged to find and work on projects of interest to them. Please report regularly on your progress. If you have questions or need assistance, please keep the Director informed.

Operational Procedures

Operational Procedures sbrewer Tue, 03/01/2016 - 11:16

Opening Procedures

  • Check in with Director
  • Unlock the northern hallway door into the BCRC.
  • Check the printers and print queues
  • Check Today's Room Reservation Schedule on the door -- replace if necessary (ie, out of date).
  • Check for damaged or missing items (perform a visual inspection of each workstation).
  • Check for loose cables -- retie cables behind computers
  • Check for dirty keyboards and monitors -- clean as necessary

Closing Procedures

  • Blink lights off and on 15 minutes and announce that the BCRC will be closing in 15 minutes.
  • Make sure all computers are turned on and logged out.
  • Make sure all monitors are turned on.
  • Make sure projector screens are up and projectors are turned off.
  • Check for damaged or missing items.
  • Dispose of any trash
  • Clean blackboards
  • Push in computer chairs, make sure adjustable chairs associated with workstations.
  • Lock door & check both windows and doors to make sure all locked.

At the start of your shift

  • Check in with the Director -- say "Hi"
  • Put your belongings away
  • Check your email
  • Check the reservation schedule
  • Check the plants to see if they need water.


  • Be punctual
  • Make sure you appear available to users in the BCRC ** Avoid wearing headphones ** Don't become engrossed in your own work: ** Intercept people before they interrupt the Director
  • Send email to if you cannot work ** To pick up a shift, reply back to the mailing list ** In the event of multiple replies, check the mailing list archive to see who emailed first:
  • Intercept students before they ask the Director a question to see if its a problem you can solve
  • Greet and encourage people who come in individually to fill up tables at the north end of the BCRC (near director's office). Tables at south end (and behind partitions) reserved for groups.
  • Answer the phone promptly, saying "BCRC!" and then identify yourself (e.g. "BCRC! Jeff speaking!")
  • Do BCRC work on BCRC time
  • Work on your project -- if you need a project, speak to the Director
  • Look around -- Does anyone look confused? Is anything malfunctioning?
  • Get up and walk through the room at least every 15 minutes -- Can anyone use help?
  • Close unused applications and log off at vacant machines (if a terminal is logged on but no student/ belongings were there for about 10-20 minutes, log that computer off so it is available for another student)
  • Clean up the room -- pick up papers, remove trash, organize the desk, put things away
  • Answer the BCRC phone in the front of the room (the number is 545-3631)

Switching Shifts

  • If you can't work a shift, please send a note to the mailing list, requesting someone else to cover your shift.
  • The first person who replied to the list (as reflected in the mailing list archive ) will work the shift.

When a class is scheduled in the BCRC

  • Announce that a class is coming 15 minutes ahead of time
  • Consult with the instructor regarding whether users will need to be displaced
  • Ask users to leave, if necessary
  • Attend to the class and move through the classroom to help students follow the instructor's directions

Before you leave

  • Check out with the Director

Lost & Found Policy

When you find an item:

  1. Determine if the item can be placed in the regular Lost & Found or if it belongs in the secure Lost & Found. The secure Lost & Found is for items that are likely to be stolen from the regular Lost & Found (calculators, wallets, ids, etc.). If you have any doubt, secure it and report it to the BCRC staff mailing list.

    A. For regular Lost & Found items: a) Wrap it up with a white sheet of paper b) Write the date that it was found and possibly where c) E-mail the BCRC staff mailing list d) Place the lost and found item in the Black Cabinet

    B. For secure Lost & Found items: a) Wrap it up with a white sheet of paper b) Write the date that it was found and possibly where c) E-mail the BCRC staff mailing list d) Ask Steve if he can secure the item in his office


Employees should provide the Director with a list of the hours they're available to work before Friday of the first week of the semester. The Director will construct a regular schedule for the BCRC.

Before the first week of the semester and before Finals week, the Director will offer wiki pages that allow staff to sign up for blocks of time directly, usually with the proviso that the first to sign up should sign up for not more than 6 hours until everyone has had a chance to sign up for hours (i.e. until two or three days has passed).

Frequently, when holidays are on Monday, other days in the week will run according to a Monday schedule. The BCRC will always run according to the University schedule.


In a serious emergency, call 911

  • Best Evacuation Route ** Turn left outside BCRC ** Turn left down hall Take stairs down and exit the building

  • Alternate Route ** Turn right outside BCRC ** Turn left at hall ** Take stairs down to first floor and turn left to exit building


Before coming to work on a snowy day, check the campus closing page ). If the campus is closed, so is the BCRC. If the snow begins later in the day, stay alert for news of the campus closing. The BCRC staff may determine that the conditions outside are poor enough to close early. If this is the case, make sure to properly shut down the lab and post a sign on the door.

Fire or Fire Alarm

Familiarize yourself with the evacuation route, location of the fire extinguisher, and fire alarms.

  • If the fire begins in the BCRC ** If it is a small fire, use the fire extinguisher from the hallway. In the event of a large uncontrollable fire, announce an evacuation, exit the room, trigger the fire alarm, supervise the evacuation of the room, direct users to follow the evacuation route, shut the doors and leave the building.
  • If the fire is outside the BCRC ** Announce an evacuation, supervise the evacuation of the room, direct users to follow the evacuation route, close the doors, and leave the building.
  • In the event of a drill, re-enter the building and re-open the lab

Chemical Spill

Some chemical spills may require the building to be evacuated. If necessary, evacuate immediately closing all doors behind you.

Power outage

In the event of a power outage, evacuate the BCRC and turn off all of the Powramids. Open again when lighting returns.


If you have questions or need help, please contact: Name Office Phone Steve Brewer 311A Morrill Science Center 545-2272 (office) 658-8129 (cell) George Drake 545-2625 (office) Amber Davis 545-0449

Professional Development

Professional Development sbrewer Tue, 03/01/2016 - 11:19


Each consultant needs to be familiar with the software and hardware provided in the BCRC. Below is an outline of the skills identified for consultants to develop.

BCRC Skills

  • Send email to the list ( )
  • Print
  • Print successfully from a document that uses frames (like your transcript from Spire)
  • Find every piece of equipment
  • Make reservations
  • Find every piece of software
  • Use printer control scripts: to check printer queues or cancel jobs
  • Post to your blog
  • Post to the twitter feed
  • Start-up X-windows and X-windows applications
  • How to Force Quit if the system gets stuck 'loading forever'
  • How to manage user accounts
  • Make coffee


  • Create and edit a simple document in txt format
  • Create and edit a simple document in html ** Make a document ** Make headings ** Insert an image


  • Find the list of shared file-systems
  • Move a file from one machine to another via the network (using Scratch volume)
  • Save a file to a net-private volume
  • Find a file on the disk
  • Save a file on an external device (flashdrive, etc)
  • Burn a CD/DVD
  • Translate a word-perfect file
  • Compress a directory of files to make a zip file


  • Change the password of a student account.
  • Cogently explain the password changing process/rules
  • Interpret whether or not the user has a Biology account
  • know the combination for the door
  • know the passwords for the local "bcrc", "bcrcstaff", and "radmind" accounts and when to log in as each.
  • know to never ever give passwords to anyone and make people see the Director to get them.

Photoshop and gimp

  • download imagery from a camera.
  • Change image size
  • Adjust levels
  • Understand when to save as .xcf, Photoshop, PICT, tiff, or jpeg.

Data projector

  • Create a slide presentation
  • Set-up a data projector
  • Print slides in handout or notes view

Word and OpenOffice

  • Create and use custom Styles
  • Insert a picture
  • Make a table
  • Save as html or PDF


  • Create a poster with Scribus
  • Print a poster

Excel and R

  • Make a histogram
  • Make a scatter plot
  • Draw a "best fit" line