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Dipl. -Inf. Thomas Schröder

Head of the University Computer Center

Thomas Schröder has been head of the University Computing Center (UniRZ) at TU Ilmenau since July 1, 2022. He succeeds Günter Springer, who headed the UniRZ from 1993 until June 2022.

Already as a student and student assistant at the end of the 1990s, Thomas Schröder got to know the structures of the university, especially the university computer center and the administration. After successfully completing his studies in 2005, he was given the opportunity to apply and expand his skills at the UniRZ in a Thuringia-wide identity management project. Already at this time collegial contacts to other universities were established.

Complex projects together with many areas of the university and other Thuringian universities were and are the rule in his daily work. A special interest for him is the conception and construction of highly available IT systems with their adaptation to efficient workflows and to put this complete package into the hands of the users. Until 2010, he led the development team responsible for the relaunch of the TU Ilmenau website. The concepts and technical solutions developed in the process lasted more than a decade and significantly increased the acceptance of TYPO3 at the university. The cooperation with the units, departments, operating units and faculties were always enriching and constructive for him, not only in this project, as he says.

In the same year, Thomas Schröder took over support for the university's mail systems and the Thuringian anti-spam appliance "Ironport". This was also the start of hosting groupware services for other Thuringian universities. Until the end, he was responsible for the Exchange systems of TU Ilmenau, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Hochschule für Musik Weimar, Universität Erfurt and Fachhochschule Erfurt, as well as the SharePoint systems of TU Ilmenau, Universität Erfurt and EAH Jena. In addition to a high level of service availability, he always placed great value on appreciative and collegial communication.

As head of the "IT Service Management" department, Thomas Schröder took on further personnel responsibility in 2013 and was given the opportunity to optimize processes across departments and to develop and implement sustainable, holistic solutions to problems. For him, a continuous improvement process is part of his daily work and has high priority. The IT Service Desk is part of this department and is the first point of contact for IT problems at the TU Ilmenau. It is therefore an important component in the external image of the UniRZ. This and his many years of involvement in the ITUM (IT-supported university management) working group have raised his profile within the university.

Through TU Ilmenau's cooperation with International University Liaison Indonesia (IULI), Thomas Schröder was in contact with the program's coordinators from 2017 and was able to provide IT resources in close coordination with the staff there. Through the Rotary Club of Ilmenau, he had worked with other Rotarians to try to establish a support program for the education of low-income Indonesians.

His department has established a role for itself as a reliable partner in Thuringia and throughout Germany: through the provision of groupware services for the TLPK (Thuringian State Presidents' Conference), SharePoint websites for ministries and the Thuringian Corona Advisory Board, among others, to website design implementation and hosting for the ZKI e.V. (Centers for Communication Processing in Research and Education). By gradually establishing services for other Thuringian universities, it was important for him to consolidate and expand contacts. He worked constructively with the heads of the university computer centers in Thuringia, was involved from the beginning in the staffing of the HS-ITZ (IT Center of the Thuringian Universities) and since 2020 has been a member of the "Advisory Group Technology and Strategy" of the HS-ITZ Board.

He sees the HS-ITZ as a consistent continuation of the SAGS (Standing Working Group on Software). By concentrating resources and knowledge at key points, IT services can be offered cost-effectively and with high quality throughout Thuringia, thus relieving the data centers of other universities. For many years, the SAGS has regularly provided support for tenders for framework agreements or Thuringia-wide training courses.

All UniRZ colleagues are eagerly awaiting the move to the new ITZ building, the Grace-Hopper-Bau. As a member of the UniRZ's internal "New Building" working group, Thomas Schröder was involved at an early stage in the planning process - especially in the areas of furnishings, locking systems, security technology, commissioning and documentation. The last four points are elementary for secure future operation and the desired certification. The UniRZ thus achieves a unique selling point in the Thuringian university data center environment. "I am convinced that the new building is an important component in consolidating and further expanding the Ilmenau location," says Schröder.

In his private life, too, his interests are wide-ranging: Further training in the areas of intercultural competence and time and project management have always been enriching for him and have also brought about positive developments at work. Business activities and the appearance as a service provider were already modeled for him in his childhood through the entrepreneurial activities of his parents and grandparents. His involvement in the Ilmenau Student Club, Rotaract, until recently the University Sports Center, and the Rotary Club of Ilmenau were and are a pleasant addition to his professional life, as he reports: "They have strengthened my social connection to the campus, Ilmenau and the region. Especially through Rotary, I always get to know interesting personalities whose stories motivate and make me think."

Over the years, Thomas Schröder has built up and expanded in-depth technical/specialized knowledge and soft skills in various fields of activity. "My career to date has shown that I have taken on responsibility in many places, can lead smaller and larger teams, and can also successfully manage complex projects," says Schröder. Continuing education courses with leadership and communication topics in particular have provided him with concepts and tools that have been helpful in his daily work. In his role as a manager, he relies on a combination of collegial leadership style as well as top-down and bottom-up approaches. He wants the UniRZ team to play an active role in helping to master the challenges of the future. Appreciation of the work leads to much higher motivation, which greatly benefits the daily work and projects, he says. This can ensure that the strategic goals and measures are aligned in terms of content, that they are ambitious but also achievable, and that employees can identify with them, he adds. "I see this identification among the colleagues at the UniRZ or the Ilmenau HS-ITZ site. Only in this way can we jointly master the challenges of the future. I'm optimistic about the future because, not least, I can rely on strong support from the UniRZ team."

For the coming years, the UniRZ director sees information security, dealing with cloud service providers, open source software and supporting research and teaching as the high-priority topics. These must be addressed in an overall IT strategy for the university and regularly adapted. In addition to these organizational-technical future activities, he also sees major challenges in the social area. Forward-looking personnel planning and development will be high on his agenda in the coming years.