Spotlight: Former teacher promotes green computing
In this ever-evolving computer age there are myths to expose and tips to spread about energy-smart computer use.
MaryBeth Stuenkel uses her jobs at U-M to do both.
One myth involves turning off computers at night. Stuenkel, who evenly splits her time as a team lead with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI@UM) and as manager of Groupware Services with Information Technology Central Services (ITCS), says previous concerns about wear from turning off computers were once valid, but not with today's machines.
And computers do not need to be on all night to accept software patches, she says.
Upon arriving for work at Climate Savers, Stuenkel reads through her e-mails and communicates with volunteers to keep up on the status of their assigned projects. As a CSCI team lead, she engages volunteers to work toward team goals, such as creating a framework for a campus Green IT Certification program.
The former teacher, who holds a master's degree in zoology, over time has been drawn to computer work.
"The thing I always liked about computers and systems administration is I always felt like the answer was just there waiting for me to find it," Stuenkel says.
Seeding green computer practices on campus is fulfilling for Stuenkel. "To me it means being aware of our impact on the Earth and adjusting our behavior to minimize our negative impact on it," she says.
As part of her Climate Savers role Stuenkel also works with the Planet Blue Environmental and Energy Initiative.
The Bethlehem, Pa., native earned an undergraduate degree from Westchester State College of Pennsylvania, briefly taught middle school then took a temporary job doing data entry at tax time.
When she sought a job recommendation from a former professor on sabbatical in Hawaii, she was encouraged to visit. Stuenkel did and stayed 10 years, during which she met her husband Ed, earned her master's degree and became a mother.
It was while working as a zoology graduate student that Stuenkel again found her computer skills were useful. "People would start coming to me with their needs for data analysis," she says. "A fellow graduate student worked on one of the remote islands studying the Hawaiian monk seal and after months they would come home with all this data to analyze."
When husband Ed took a position with the University of California, San Francisco, she also was hired by UCSF to do computer work. The pattern repeated in 1987, when the family moved to Ann Arbor after Ed got a teaching job at U-M. Stuenkel's computer skills landed her a job with the University, which led her to a systems administration position with ITCS.
Off the job, Stuenkel is a group moderator with the volunteer organization Ann Arbor_eCycle, which practices free recycling and has 6,000 members. "It's amazing; people put cars on there," she says of the group's recycling Web site. "The purpose of the group is to keep things out of the landfill." She also volunteers doing sales and cash register work with Ten Thousand Villages, which seeks to provide fair income to third world artisans.
In other interests Stuenkel sings with the Carillon Women's Chorale and maintains a backyard vegetable and herb garden with her husband. "I also love listening to podcasts, particularly about environmental issues."
The Stuenkels have two children: Jessica, a graduate student, and Mark, a college freshman this fall.
The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the University. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at email@example.com.