After 31 years at the University, Faculty of Engineering Systems Manager Michel Racine is retiring from an exciting and engaging career that has allowed him to see and participate in creating the university of tomorrow.
“In 1990, I applied for a job as the head of IT for the School of Computer Science,” recalls Michel. “I remember at the time thinking to myself, this may be the best job in Ottawa for a computer science graduate! Getting this job would be wonderful, I’d be in a position to support people who are learning, teaching and doing research in computer science”.
Throughout his career at the University, Michel has witnessed the growth and transformation of technology through his work at the Faculty. He considers himself fortunate to have been both a witness and participant in numerous initiatives that brought the latest technologies to students and staff.
In the early days of the Internet, Michel describes how computer networks were limited, with minimal connection between buildings. “I remember our mail system back in 1990, that was based on dial-up Internet. Professors would write messages that would go into a repository, and every few hours our server would send and receive a batch of files. Dial-up was very slow and it would take hours to deliver these messages through multiple hops until the email reached its destination across the country or the world” says Michel. “Computer Science was very big on email in those early days, but it was seldom used across campus. I vividly remember discussing with my colleagues across campus how useful and efficient email was.” Needless to say, it caught on!
Michel has seen many of what he says are foundational moments for IT at the University. One of these moments was the 1993 launch of the University’s first website, hosted by a Computer Science research group. Rumours of ‘the Internet’ were gathering a lot of media attention, which eventually brought busloads of high school students to the University so they could ‘see how the internet worked’.
One of Michel's proudest achievements was the 2016 implementation of the RemoteApps service, which provides students with remote access to academic software. Many of these technologies seemed novel at the time but are now ubiquitous and have turned out to be a blessing during this time of learning and working remotely.
Michel thrived when he worked with motivated students, researchers and colleagues to identify and implement solutions and help them achieve their goals. He has maintained close relationships with many students and colleagues that have moved on. Michel considers himself fortunate to have worked within a dynamic team and within an IT ecosystem that is increasingly collaborative. “I’ve been part of a faculty that is really dynamic and forward-thinking,” says Michel. “I look at what our students are accomplishing and the research and work that is going on, and I feel so humble that I got to work in ‘the best job in Ottawa’ for all these years”.
Michel Racine will begin his retirement in May 2021. He plans to continue pursuing his interests in technology by exploring emerging software and technologies.
Colleagues celebrate Michel Racine
- “Michel Racine has truly been a key player in the massive changes that have come over the Faculty over the past 3 decades. The developments of IT have been a fundamental aspect of the evolution of engineering and of course computer science, and of our ability to conduct our core mission of teaching and research across the board. Michel was able to ensure that our infrastructure kept up with incredibly rapid changes, and he was an agent of change throughout his career to ensure that we stayed on top of the wave. He was also able to bring change about through his extremely supportive, diplomatic and knowledgeable approach, essential qualities of the agent of change that he has been. He retires at a time when he’s spent the last few years preparing for the future, for the next big waves of change, and he has done this, as everything else, admirably well.” – Jacques Beauvais, Dean, Faculty of Engineering
- “Michel was one of the first IT leaders I met at the University. He gave me a very warm welcome and took the time to wholeheartedly share the University’s background and history. He is a great partner and his commitment to the University is second to none. He will certainly be missed, and I wish him the retirement of his dreams, filled with all the adventures he yearns for! - Kathleen Webster, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Information Technology
- “Working with Michel has always been a pleasure. I am very proud of what we accomplished with our VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) project, that started back in 2017, and our achievements in improving the student experience and introducing cost savings for the University. More recently, this infrastructure has proven essential in offering RemoteLabs and RemoteApps to our students during this time of distanced learning. Without Michel’s positive energy and continuous enthusiasm, we would not have been as successful.” – Jeffrey Lanthier, Senior Manager, Telfer IT Support Services
- “I’ve known Michel for many years, from sometime around the mid-90s. Professionally, Michel is truly an outstanding collaborator; we’ve worked together within the framework of several inter-faculty projects (when I was at the Faculty of Social Sciences and then Science) and with Information Technology, for infrastructure, teaching, research and other initiatives. His leadership, knowledge, experience and great wisdom have always been a source of inspiration to me. Michel is always in good spirits and has a very friendly personality. He is fun-loving and is passionate about the good things in life. Over time, we’ve become very good friends. So much so, that we keep in regular contact. This is comforting as he prepares for his retirement. For over 16 years now, we’ve had our annual camping trips which are always very enjoyable, and I know we’ll continue our camper dinners on a regular basis. Happy retirement to my colleague, but above all, to my friend. The office will not be the same without you. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement. Looking forward to seeing you again soon Michel! – Paul Mercier, IT Manager, Information Technology