Heat threatens to shut down campus computers

Air conditioning in campus buildings lumbered into operation Tuesday as campus computers came dangerously close to shutting down from the heat and students complained to University administrators about the unseasonably warm weather.

Mike Briggs, a systems specialist at the law school, said the school’s mainframe computer came within five degrees of overheating Tuesday afternoon.

“There could have been some serious damage if no one had been there to take care of the situation,” Briggs said. “When it gets that hot . (it) could have led the CPUs to overheat or the drives to fail.

“Unfortunately, that would have shut down not only our computer labs, but also the faculty’s computer labs and our Web server,” he said.

“On Monday, the water temperature was 85 degrees and theair temperature was 89 degrees,” Briggs added. “Apparently, it was a combination of the heat outside, and somebody in the Office of Facilities Management who turned the wrong knob.”

Briggs said Law School Associate Dean John Jenkins called GW’s facilities department when the temperature shot from 60 degrees inthe morning to 84 degrees by noon, and maintenance workers arrived within a half an hour to fix the problem.

Director of Facilities Management Walter Gray said he did not consider a few days of uncomfortable weather to be a serious heat problem.

“The seasons change from cool to hot, and as they do we try toplan the system conversion,” Gray said. “I thought we could survive it, but when you get weather like this . I mean, when do you get 89-degree weather in March?

“Normally, the changeover is made on April 15, but based on thisyear’s phenomenal weather patterns and the complaints we received, I made the decision to go ahead with the switch,” Gray said.

But he said the temperature was 31 degrees just over a week ago, and if the weather gets cool again quickly it could take a day or two to put the heat on again.

“Because the freon in the cooling towers requires draining, wecan’t go back and forth between heat and (air conditioning), and sometimes it gets very hot and stifling in between,” he said.

“Facilities needs to maintain a comfortable climate in there,” said Brad Reese, director of the Computer Information and Resource Center. “People have complained about the conditions in the labs before.”

The warm weather did more than endanger University computer equipment, however; it made the early part of the week uncomfortable for students who live in campus buildings where air conditioning has not been put on yet.

Jennifer Kieley, a Mitchell Hall resident, said the heat forced students on her floor to sleep with their doors open over the weekend.

“My neighbor’s thermostat read 91 degrees on Sunday afternoon,”she added.

“Our rooms are like tiny cells to begin with and there is no aircirculation at all,” Kieley said. “It was nauseatingly hot, and you couldn’t study or sleep.”

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