IT Professionals Forum Conference


Spring 2021 Conference

A Virtual IT Professionals Forum with select sessions was presented on June 2 & 3, 2021.

The conference theme, "Resilience & Reinvention," explored past ways we've persevered, how we are forging ahead in the present, and our plans for re-imagining the future. Over the past year, we've handled challenges and learned new ways to use the technologies we're familiar with and pushed ourselves to explore new technologies.

Explore our theme with friends and colleagues at #ITPF2021 and discuss Resilience & Reinvention through one of these tracks:

  • Reinventing the Future
    Data, Security & Privacy, Research, Cloud, Automation, Programming
  • Renovating the Web
    Accessibility, Web Design, Programming, Mobile
  • Resilient Infrastructure
    Networking, Storage, Cloud
  • Rethinking Communication
    Interpersonal Skills, Customer Service & Satisfaction, Distance Learning, Remote Work
  • Reaching Outside the Box
    Don’t see a track description that suits your idea? Put it here! Anything goes

Day 1: June 2 - Main Conference

  • 9:00am-9:45am: Keynote Address
    • Keynote Address: Enabling Our Future Through Community
      Scott Genung, Interim CIO
      The Provost will be sharing his vision for the future of the Urbana campus with the campus IT community in early May. As we learn more of this vision, I believe you'll find it both bold and inspiring. This vision builds upon lessons from the last year but also upon the idea that the challenges that lay before us are also opportunities to take a different path. To achieve these outcomes, the Provost has made it clear that technology is foundational to enabling his vision. Yet, the way we invest and deliver technology to create this future will be markedly different than where we've been. This keynote will discuss how the campus IT community can exploit these opportunities to optimize how the University gets things done while delivering on the promise for a new and bold future. If we can rise to the occasion, our future may never have looked so bright. Please join me as I share perspectives for how we may achieve these things together through community and the power of We. Later in the day, please join me for a moderated discussion to further explore his vision and the opportunities for the campus IT community.
  • 10:00am-10:45am: Sessions 1
    • DATAOPS and Advanced Analytics at the University of Illinois System
      Ashley Hallock, AITS
      About a two years ago, the University System began a new analytics adventure. We would like to talk about how we have found success and continue to grow with a very small footprint using DataOps principles.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • VoIP migration to the cloud Q & A
      Eric Frahm, Technology Services; Dan Vander Ploeg, Technology Services; Amy Sass, Technology Services
      Skype for Business will be retired in the coming year and replaced by Microsoft Teams. What are the questions and concerns from campus.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Mobile Integration Testing with Robot Framework
      Priya Ravi, Technology Services; Michelle Pitcel, Technology Services; Edward Delaporte, Technology Services
      Robot Framework is an open-source framework that is utilized for automation and testing with applications. Robot Framework is a versatile framework that uses human-readable language to enable easier utilization of built-in keywords, and simpler execution of keyword libraries. The Appium Library is one such Keyword Library utilized in the Robot Framework script. The Appium Desktop GUI serves as a connection between the test device and the Robot Framework script. The GUI allows for the interactive inspection of an Application, allows the User to step through the Application while writing tests, and lets a User view element IDs, Classes, XPATHs, etc. without needing to access the source code. This presentation will demonstrate the successful implementation of all these pieces to test a mobile application.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Protecting the Campus Network with Zeek and Null Routing
      Katie Lackermann, Privacy and Security, Technology Services; Bob Heren, Privacy and Security, Technology Services; Glen Shere, Privacy and Security, Technology Services
      Zeek is a Network Security Monitoring (NSM) tool used in combination with our Null Router to identify and sinkhole malicious traffic at our network border. This talk will provide an overview of how we use these tools to monitor and protect our network and users.
      Track: Resilient Infrastructure
    • Cross-Unit Collaborations -- When things just have to get done
      Nate Baxley, College of LAS; Laura Hayden, College of Engineering; Matt Sharkey, Office of Strategic Marketing & Branding; Melissa Waller, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Cordelia Geiken, Technology Services
      There are many great committees and groups on campus that have been formed with formal charters and pre-negotiated deliverables. However, sometimes you need to bring people together quickly to work on a problem and create a solution. The Web Implementation Guidelines Group (WIGG) is a group that was formed completely organically and has now helped release a consistent website design template with implementations in several CMS across the campus. Hear how this collaboration came about, how it has been successful, what lessons you can learn from our experience and how you can become a part of our work.
      Track: Rethinking Communication
  • 11:00am-11:45am: Sessions 2
    • Drawings, Models & Maps leveraging them to enhance understanding
      Mary Stevens, Technology Services
      Walking through the differences and strengths of drawings, models and maps, and showing some ways that they can be leveraged to improve communications and understanding between people. Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words, and often a picture can help people come to a deeper shared understanding more quickly. An entire spectrum of visualizations are possible and each has great potential to increase understanding of complex topics. Very little artistic skill is needed to create visualizations that will aid your communications efforts.
      Track: Rethinking Communication
    • The Next Generation of Research Storage Infrastructure and Services at Illinois
      J.D. Maloney, NCSA
      As datasets for researchers continue to grow, new infrastructure and tooling must be deployed to meet the needs of our researchers on campus. In addition to needing capacity, users need good performance and an ever-widening means of accessing and sharing their data with their teams and collaborators both here at Illinois and with researchers across the country. A new suite of storage services has been deployed for researchers over the past year, and more services will be rolling out in the next 6 months. This session's aim is two fold: to present these offerings to the campus IT community for them to gain an understanding of them to better share them with their users on campus and to accept feedback regarding any additional capabilities IT Pros think their user's need.
      Track: Resilient Infrastructure
    • Moving to the Canvas LMS - What You Need to Know
      Drew MacGregor, Technology Services; Mark Reynolds, Technology Services; Marc Thompson, CITL; Jim Wentworth, CITL
      Our current LMS, Compass2g/Blackboard will be retired by June 30, 2022. A new system, Canvas, used by 12 (now 13) of the 15 schools in the Big Ten Academic Alliance is being deployed for use in Fall 2021. The project is a combined effort between Technology Services, CITL, and the colleges. The Canvas environment will be SaaS and include 24x7 Tier 1 support from Canvas for our students, faculty, and staff. In our session we will cover the components of the Canvas project, including details on training, migration, and support. We will also discuss how Canvas will be used as the foundation to build future online learning opportunities. We will include time to ask questions and cover how this change may impact you and your customers.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Delivering Consistent Web Design Templates Across Multiple Platforms
      Nate Baxley, College of LAS; Laura Hayden, College of Engineering; Matt Sharkey, Office of Strategic Marketing & Branding; Melissa Waller, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Cordelia Geiken, Technology Services
      There are a large variety of web publishing situations across campus today. With the push from the Chancellor last year to adopt the new branding standards, many units are searching for a way to bring their websites into compliance. The WIGG efforts have created branded themes for WordPress and Drupal and made those available to anyone who wants them. We have also created web components that can be used on any web publishing platform. Hear about how these tools were created, what features they offer, and how you can get involved in the effort to continue to improve them.
      Track: Renovating the Web
    • DevOps for the Shield Data Pipeline
      Stephen Butler, Technology Services
      To respond to the quickly changing data needs of the campus during the pandemic, the Shield Team adopted a DevOps approach to our data pipeline applications. These are some of the serverless and CI/CD approaches we used.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm: Lunch
  • 1:00pm-1:45pm: Sessions 3
    • Medusa Repository, 4 years later
      W. Jason Strutz, Library; Seth Robbins, Library; Colleen Fallaw, Library; Gen Schmitt, Library
      In 2017, the Library presented on plans for the Medusa Digital Repository (Turning Data to Stone). Four years later, we have built the Illinois Data Bank, the Digital Library, and the Medusa Collection Registry on AWS. We plan to add the IDEALS repository in Fall 2021, as a shared service among the 92 CARLI academic research libraries in Illinois. This presentation will show how we transitioned these services to the cloud, along with benefits, lessons learned, and future directions.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Campus Wide Vulnerability Scanning - 6 Month Update
      Taylor Judd, Technology Services Privacy and Information Security; David Lewis, Technology Services Privacy and Information Security; Tamara Buch, Technology Services Privacy and Information Security
      Starting in March the security office in conjunction with partners from IT Council, College of Media, and College of Engineering launched a campus wide vulnerability scanning initiative. We are now 6 months into the process and we will present on how we got here, the lessons learned, some of the insights we gained, and our plans for the next year.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Apple Enterprise Update
      Paul Roberts, Technology Services; Keith Mountin, Apple
      Spring update on macOS, iOS and AppleTV at Illinois. Keith Mountin our campus Apple System Engineer will be on hand to answer question plus give updates on the following: What's new in macOS and iOS How to deploy macOS with DEP Enterprise update.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
    • Data Analysis Panel Discussion
      Ashley Hallock, AITS
      Join us as we bring together Data Professionals who have excellent skills in Analysis. We are hoping to have a conversation around data challenges, triumphs and everything in between. Panel includes: Xiaobei Chen, Director of Reporting and Data Analysis in the Office of the Provost; Jeremiah Yokely, Senior Enterprise Sourcing Data Analyst Coordinator in System Purchasing and Support Services; Ashley Hetrick, Data Analyst in the Office of the Chief Information Officer; Nick O'Dea, Policy and Resource Analyst in the Office of Planning and Budgeting.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • TeamDynamix Project Implementation
      Kathy Lyons, Technology Services; Tracy Tolliver, Library; Jen Anderson, School of Information Sciences; Ahsan Alvi, Technology Services
      The TDX project team will introduce the implementation project and plan. With the help of the TDX Advisory Group we will answer questions on the tool, how to prepare for implementing the tool in your area, and provide some current user experiences and stories.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
  • 2:00pm-2:45pm: Sessions 4
    • Keynote Panel: Enabling the Vision through Community
      Scott Genung, Technology Services
      Join the interim CIP and other leaders from our campus IT community to explore questions and ideas that draw upon the vision from Provost Cangellaris' Call to Action presentation and today's keynote.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
  • 3:00pm-3:45pm: Sessions 5
    • The New Need for Digital Agility
      Jason Hood
      The need for agility has always been important for business. As technology has pushed change faster, businesses must focus efforts to not only maintain, but in many cases exceed the need for technology changes and improvements to support business operations and consumer needs. Digital agility is enabled by the cloud, but supported by many other technologies. We will focus on the uses of those technologies and how they allow for a great digital experience.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Transforming data into an asset
      Mary Stevens, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Tracy Smith, Technology Sevices; Joe Barnes; Phil Reiter
      Data can be a valuable asset for any organization. There are challenges around harnessing the power of data and using it to help the organization fulfill its goals. As a university we have many diverse ways that data can be created and used. We will be discussing data, the hows and whys we should be transforming the technology ecosystem so that as much value as possible can be gained from data. But also recognizing the importance of maintaining standards around security, and privacy.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Github and Amazon Web Services: A Serverless Website
      Bryan Jonker, IT Partners at Education; Julieanne Chapman, Technology Services
      Github is great to track changes, roll back mistakes, and collaborate when changing files. Amazon Web Services is a great way to host a web site without having to maintain servers. Learn how to combine the two to have a fast, cheap website that is easy to update. Push something to Github, and watch it publish to a Tech Services Amazon Web Service S3 instance and invalidate the cache, all automated. See it work with a standard CDN instance, or something more complicated like a static-site generator.
      Track: Resilient Infrastructure
    • Open Source Communities: why, how, and ethos
      Bradly Alicea, Rokwire
      While the benefits of Open Source collaboration are self-evident, the path to success in such an environment is less obvious. To better understand this path, we will revisit the practice and foundational ideas of open-source communities, particular with respect to open-source in an academic environment. In doing so, we will also revisit the rationale for building around open-source architectures. As a mode of development and social interaction, open-source is fundamentally different from the norms of the Corporation and the University. This requires a conceptual shift for which we will advocate. For example, a significant component of open-source involvement in a University setting involves developing a pedagogical focus that can promote and germinate open-source culture. In conclusion, we will discuss specific initiatives and concrete benefits of an open-source working mode using the Rokwire Community as an example.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
    • Creating Community through IT Council
      David Gerstenecker; Scott Genung
      The IT Council went through a reimagining process over the past couple years. It is now operating in a new way, with new subcommittees and charters designed to be more effective at IT strategy for all of campus. We want to engage with you and share how you can engage with the work of IT Council on campus.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
  • 4:00pm-4:45pm: Sessions 6
    • Update on Web Hosting Services at Tech Services (PIE, cPanel and Wiki)
      Cordelia Geiken, Technology Services; Julieanne Chapman, Technology Services; Robert Slater, Technology Services; Joseph Muggli, Technology Services
      Learn about all the work the Web Hosting Team at Tech Services has been doing and our plans for the future. You'll hear updates about the Campus Wiki, cPanel and Publish @ Illinois services. This will be a group presentation and we'd love to hear from you and answer your questions.
      Track: Renovating the Web
    • Data Ecosystem Birds of a Feather
      Mary Stevens, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Tracy Smith; Joe Barnes; Phil Reiter
      Companion to Transforming data into an asset. This is intended to provide a space for more discussion and engagement between community members on what a data ecosystem could and should look like at the university. If you are interested in data, and how the future data ecosystem at the university might help you do your work/research we hope this is a useful place to come and engage with others on this topic.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Serverless in the Cloud: A Cost Perspective
      Ken Taylor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
      This talk will examine the cost of serverless technologies in the cloud based on the lessons learned from the COVID data pipeline.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
    • Designing for People: The Flexible Work Program
      Michael Curtin, Technology Services at Illinois; Hannah Christensen, Technology Services at Illinois; Sandra Thompson, Technology Services at Illinois / College of Engineering; Evan Taylor, Technology Services at Illinois
      To better accommodate evolving needs, Technology Services operates a newly-minted Flexible Work Program. Its goal is the promotion of choice regarding when, where, and how our employees conduct their work. Using elements of design thinking and human centered design, the Program's development team seeks to compassionately prepare the whole of the organization for change. This talk covers the cultural shift they've navigated so far, how they pulled it off, and why it matters to you.
      Track: Reaching Outside the Box
    • Cloud Advisory survey results - obstacles to cloud adoption
      W. Jason Strutz, Library; Josh Henry, College of ACES
      The Cloud Advisory Subcommittee, working with a Gies Action Learning Team, distributed a survey on obstacles to cloud adoption in spring 2021. This session will present the results.
      Track: Reinventing the Future
  • 5:00pm-5:30pm: Closing and Social

Day 2: June 3 - Post-Conference Workshops

  • Inclusive Online Meetings Revisited
    Leslie Sherman, Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS); Mark McCarthy, Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS)
    Reinvent your online meetings to be more inclusive while reducing "Zoom Fatigue!" We will be covering tips, tricks, tools and more for making meetings more accessible for those with and without disabilities.
    Track: Rethinking Communication
  • Accessibility 101 - Always something for everyone
    Christy Blew, University of Illinois
    Whether you are an expert in IT Accessibility or never explored the topic, the Accessibility 101 course has been designed to adapt to all levels of knowledge. Christy Blew will introduce the course and how you can learn for the first time or brush up on your IT Accessibility skills on your own time.
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • Become a Campus Accessibility Liaison
    Leslie Sherman, Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS); Christy Blew, Disability Resources and Educational Services; Mark McCarthy, Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS); Vance Martin, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Office
    As campus life and activities became more online this past year, it has become more important for all of us to be accessibility allies to ensure the Electronic IT we support and create are inclusive to those with disabilities. Join us to learn how you can act as a Campus Accessibility Liaison for your unit through the IT Accessibility Liaison Program.
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • ARIA: What's in a Name?
    Mark McCarthy, Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS); Keith Hays, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    ARIA, or Accessible Rich Internet Applications, can be an overwhelming topic at first. By learning some basics of the standard, as well as some rules and guidelines around its use, you may be able to vastly improve the accessibility of your site or web application. We'll be discussing some of the basic tenets of ARIA as well as some simple examples and how they benefit users and their browsers and/or assistive technologies of choice.
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • Designing an Accessible WordPress Theme - CANCELED
    Jon Gunderson, Disability Resources and Education Services; Nicholas Hoyt, Disability Resources and Education Services; Robert Slater, Technology Services
    THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED WordPress is a popular Content Management System (CMS) for creating websites at the University of Illinois. This session will describe our experience in creating an accessible WordPress theme for the Accessible IT Group website. The session will discuss the use of headings and landmarks, the creation of an accessible banner menu, adding the SkipTo.js script to the theme template for supporting keyboard navigation, keyboard focus styling and adding in third party plugins for managing tables and a calendar. The banner menu code, which uses an ARIA disclosure menu pattern, and SkipTo.js has been shared for use with the campus template. The Accessible IT Group website uses the campus CPanel web hosting service. The theme is available on GitHub for people to use or modify for their own WordPress websites. Robert Slater will describe how accessibility features are being integrated in the campus WordPress template. THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • Using FAE for Website Accessibility Evaluation - CANCELED
    Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois; Nicholas Hoyt, Disability Resources and Education Services
    THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED Participants will learn how to use free and open source tools, developed here at Illinois over the past 16 years, to evaluate and understand the accessibility of entire websites, based on the requirements of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA requirements. Participants are encouraged to bring and use their own devices during the presentation to analyze websites of their choice using FAE. The presentation will use the results of participants' evaluations to discuss how the tools provide information on accessibility as well as their capabilities and limitations. Participants will be encouraged to participate in a monthly open source web accessibility tools user group meeting to ask questions, provide feedback on current tools and help plan the next generation of tools developed here at Illinois. THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • Using AInspector WCAG and Bookmarklets for Web Page Evaluation - CANCELED
    Jon Gunderson, Disability Resources and Education Services; Nicholas Hoyt, University of Illinois
    THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED Participants will learn how to use free and open source tools, developed here at Illinois over the past 16 years, to evaluate and understand the accessibility of individual pages based on the requirements of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA requirements. Participants are encouraged to bring and use their own laptop computer during the presentation to analyze pages of their choice using AInspector WCAG. The presentation will use the results of participants evaluations to discuss how the tools provide information on accessibility as well as their capabilities and limitations. The session will also demonstrate manual testing for headings and landmarks using the Accessibility Bookmarklets. Participants will be encouraged to participate in a monthly open source web accessibility tools user group meeting to ask questions, provide feedback on current tools and help plan the next generation of tools developed here at Illinois. THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELED
    Track: Renovating the Web
  • Introduction to Tableau -- An Overview / Hands on Training for Beginners
    Tara Sadler, AITS; Trevor Jennings, AITS; Michael Cervone, Technology Services
    This session is targeted for people who haven't used Tableau before or very little. It is designed to give you an opportunity to dabble in the tool and see if it is a tool you would like to learn more about. We will cover how to connect to data, understand the basics of the software tool, build a couple graphs, add them to a dashboard, create filters, variables and when and why you would use them. We will cover as much as we can in the time allotted. If you want to follow along using the tool, download the free trial version a few days before the session. Or just kick batch and watch and the session will be recorded to reference at a later time.
  • Apple Deployment Essentials
    Paul Roberts, Technology Services, Keith Mountin, Apple
    In this course, you'll gain the skills, tools, and knowledge you need to deploy Apple devices. Interactive discussions and hands-on exercises guide you through configuring and managing Apple devices. You'll work through real-world scenarios to test and reinforce your knowledge and skills.


A special thank you to Technology Services,
premier sponsor of the IT Professionals Forum Conference
for over 25 years!


Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Committee Members

  • Cordelia Geiken, Chair
    Technology Services
  • Neeru Batura
    Technology Services
  • John Billerman
    Student Affairs Technology
  • Chris Burdette
    Administrative Information Technology Services
  • Michael Cervone
    Technology Services
  • Dan Dalpiaz
    Library Administration
  • Debbie Fligor
    Technology Services
  • Troy Gagne
    Technology Services
  • Laura Galvan
    Technology Services
  • Katie Lackermann
    Technology Services
  • Matt Macomber
    Administrative Information Technology Services
  • Kala Maturi
    Technology Services
  • Mark McCarthy
    Administrative Information Technology Services
  • Maged Messeh
    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Liam Moran
    Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning
  • Todd Nelson
    Administrative Information Technology Services
  • Aaron O’Banion
    Information Technology Partners at Gies Business
  • Priya Ravi
    Technology Services
  • Robert Slater
    Technology Services
  • Dena Strong
    Technology Services
  • Sue Tiger
    Illini Union Tech Zone
  • Dejan Trencevski
    Technology Services
  • Leon Wilson
    Library Administration
  • Kenn Wislander
    Technology Services