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CARD: Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

Fall 2001, Vol. 7 No. 4

pdf for printing Meet the Staff: Michael Long

Picture of Michael Long
Behind all good policy analysis is good economic theory, backed by mathematical programming models that often use massive data and crunch massive numbers. And behind all good programming and data systems is a good computer system, backed by professionals who know how to keep things humming. Michael Long belongs to this club of computer professionals at CARD; he's been working to maintain CARD's computers, servers, and networks since 1990.
A systems analyst in Computer Services, Mike can usually be found troubleshooting or installing software at one of the 50-plus personal computers in use on any given day. The pace of technological advances in the computer sector keeps hardware and software upgrades on the docket almost constantly. Mike says he and other computer support staff work to keep equipment operating efficiently. "We try to make any changes in computing here at CARD in a gradual, orderly fashion with as few disruptions as possible."
Viruses and security are often on his mind, as he sifts through newsletters and e-mail alerts to get a jump on any potential threats. The Economics Department computer server recently succumbed to the latest menace—the Nimda virus, which meant hours of damage control by the department's systems staff. But CARD's computers and servers have sidestepped that particular threat, for now. The guardians of the data, including Mike, work relentlessly to protect CARD's investment.
Mike says he likes the challenge of finding solutions to technical problems. And, as in most computer-driven agencies, technical problems are not hard to come by. The variety of work is also a plus, he says. So, too, are the people. "CARD is a very nice place to work," he says. "It is a good opportunity to be able to work with very gifted and caring faculty, staff, and graduate students."
A true technophile, Mike spends his spare time tinkering. "I like to repair broken things, working on autos and doing home improvements," he says. "Putting in water lines for our rural water service is my next big project."
Mike and his wife, Anne, have three children: Candice, Chucky, and Melanie. At home he's been busy helping Melanie, his youngest, work through pre-school materials to prepare for kindergarten next year, and he will soon install some fencing so that Candice, his oldest daughter, can have a horse and some sheep.