Interview: Beth McKown
Welcome to what I like to call our NCSA Crush Wednesday, or NCW for short. For the next few weeks, and maybe even longer, I will be interviewing staff members around NCSA to get people excited about the 30th anniversary of the NCSA coming up. My interviewee for today is Beth McKown.
Kenny: So like I said earlier, this is for our NCSA Crush Wednesday, which is just a highlight of several members over the month for our social media pages. My first question for you is how long have you been working for NCSA?
Beth: 25 years.
K: 25 years, wow, that’s great! What do you do here?
B: I’m the administrative support for the director’s office, I support the director and deputy director for NCSA.
K: What were your impressions of NCSA when you first got here?
B: That it was an exciting place. I had come from another department on campus on the south end of campus, and when I came to NCSA, I was delighted that I didn’t have to record as many items, like picking up pencils, or supplies, or log my long distance phone calls like I had to do in the other department before I came. I was really excited, it was an exciting time; I’d seen NCSA news items in the paper.
K: Well you kind of answered one of my later questions, but what did you do before here exactly?
B: Well I came from the College of Ag[riculture], and I was an administrative support there.
K: What were your expectations for your time here when you first began? What were you hesitant about, what were you excited about?
B: I was excited to come to NCSA, because at the time when I came it was an exciting place, it was the new place to be on campus. I didn’t really know what was going to come out of it. I can say that [in] my time here, I’ve gotten a little bit better on technology, computer technology, and I think that this job has helped me do that.
K: Well you say you’ve been working here for 25 years, did you know that next year [in] 2016 will be NCSA’s 30th anniversary?
B: Yes I did!
K: So are you excited for it?
B: Yes I am, because I think NCSA has certainly outlived maybe its first thought out existence, and it’s great that we’re still an NSF center funded supercomputing center, and [I’m] really looking forward to what the 30th anniversary events might be at NCSA.
K: So can you tell me some of your highlights of your time here at NCSA; something that you’re either proud of, or just a vivid, fond memory here for you?
B: Well of course it was exciting to be here when Mosaic was invented. I remember when Larry Smarr came out and had to show everyone what this new technology was like. That was an exciting time. And of course getting the large supercomputers in, that’s always great to see, even though one gets retired, a new system comes in. and to move from the Advanced Computation Building to the National Petascale Facility Building, was really a momentous occasion for NCSA. And of course working with the people. There’s been a lot of good NCSA staff members here that have come and gone, or are still here, and that’s been the greatest adventure of all at NCSA.
K: Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve been learning since I started here, [that] there’s still some of those original people from the 1986 days, and they’re still over here making impacts on NCSA and doing a lot of big things. To wrap up my interview here though, what do you expect for the next 30 years at NCSA?
B: Well I think NCSA will just keep growing, and I think with our current director,
Ed Seidel, he has great vision for the future of NCSA, and I think as we get more integrated in campus activities, I think that, that will help NCSA grow even more, and I think that we’ll continue to get good staff members to keep NCSA going for a long time.
K: Very cool! Well thank you for your time Beth.
B: You’re welcome!