Ms. Fix-it

Andrea Mox

Photo By Tom Angel

When Andrea Mox attended Chico State University in the early 1980s, she liked computers but wanted to work with people, not do programming, so she designed a special major in “Human Factors in Computing.” After working for a local network company, she went to work for the university in 1989 manning the help desk for faculty and staff with computer problems, the first woman to do so. Now she’s the manager of User Services, the group that takes the calls from faculty and staff employees having computer, phone and network problems and then solves them or finds someone who can.

How many people are in your unit?

We have 10 full-time, including myself, and 15 students who work half-time. We take care of 2,500-3,000 computers. It’s a big job.

How many calls do you take?

Our database says we’ve closed 75,000 queries in the past four years. We’ve probably taken more than 100,000 calls. Of those we fixed about three-fourths; the rest we referred to groups such as the Unix Support Group or the networking or phone people.

Can you access computers from your offices?

We have a program called Land Desk that allows us to do that. It’s been a phenomenal success, allowing my staff to provide instantaneous help, train people on site and install software. Last year, when the Blaster worm hit, we were able to put a patch in a thousand computers in a day or two.

What are the most common problems?

These days its spam in e-mail. Everybody’s complaining. And security. If we get a worm, we have to track it down and clean it out. It can be a big task.

Are hackers a problem?

On a college campus, always. But we try to be very secure, and we are.

Everybody on campus must know you by now?

Five years ago, when I was answering phones, that was true. Now, as manager, I’m more behind the scenes.

It’s what your major was all about, right?

Absolutely. You never know what’s going to happen next. We’re psychologists, we’re confidants, we’re whatever people need us to be.