December 2014 OCIO Employee Spotlight: Aaron Minnick

Aaron Minnick came to us from Indiana, bringing along with him a diverse background of work experience. He previously dabbled in trades such as bicycle repair, backstage theater and marketing before making his way to the OCIO, despite his efforts to “run away” from IT. This jack of all trades (and instruments!) is now enjoying his work with business customers, making sure they are able to navigate and optimize Student Information Systems applications. Learn more about Aaron, this month’s spotlight employee:

Q: What is your role at the OCIO?
I am a functional lead with the SIS Applications Team. I'm part of a group that supports the Student Information System. As functional lead, I work with student business offices (Admissions, Registrar, Bursar and so forth) to maintain and enhance how SIS works for them as well as for applicants and students.

Q: How long have you worked at the OCIO?
I started with the predecessor to the current OCIO Training group in March of 2007 for the initial SIS implementation and have been with OSU ever since. However, for 2 years from 2010 to 2012, I worked in Enrollment Services; I came back to OCIO in my current role in 2012.

Q: Have you worked on any large projects since you’ve been here?
I think both the SIS implementation and the SIS/HR upgrade would be considered large projects – so yes, absolutely!

Q: What are you currently working on? What does a typical day look like for you?
I am currently spending most of my time in ongoing maintenance and break-fix support for SIS. My days vary quite a bit. When urgent break-fix needs come up, especially when they directly affect the student experience, everything else takes a back seat. Other days are more planned project work. In either case, though, I generally spend time communicating with business offices, working with our software developers, testing SIS functionality and documenting design changes and testing results.

Q: What do you like best about your job?
I most enjoy the opportunity to work with our business customers to understand their business needs and look for ways to utilize existing functions, enhance functions or implement new functions to help them do their job more efficiently and effectively.

Q: Did you always know this is what you wanted to do as a career?
Quite the opposite! Actually, I tried to run away from IT. I was initially accepted into a computer science program as an undergrad, but decided the summer before that I didn't want to spend my lifetime coding, so I moved into liberal arts. Eventually, I came back around to IT after I discovered I had a knack for troubleshooting and maintaining desktop PCs.

Q: Where have you worked before this?
I have a pretty varied professional background. I've worked as a travelling bicycle mechanic, an audio-video technician, a theatrical stagehand, a publishing manager for a translation company and even as an employee in the direct marketing and market research field. In IT, I worked in PC support, systems administration and systems training, before my current job in the OCIO.

Q: Where did you go to college?
I did my undergrad at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Last year, I finished a Master's degree in Adult Education and Training here at Ohio State.

Q: Where are you from originally?
I grew up in the sticks of Brown County, Indiana, near tourist destination Nashville, Indiana and about 45 minutes from Indiana U. / Bloomington.

Q: What is your favorite place to visit?
Wow, that's a difficult question! I've always had a deep love for Chicago and we travel there a couple of times a year. Lately, though, we've been vacationing frequently in Nashville, TN. My wife and I look for places with great arts and music scenes. It's great that either destination is only an hour away by plane!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Hmmm… I've always wanted to visit Europe, particularly Amsterdam. They have a very sustainable attitude toward consumption, and bicycles are king.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
I'm very active as a musician. Currently, I'm playing tenor sax in the OSU Collegiate Winds, one of OSU's concert bands. Over the summer, I played baritone sax and clarinet in pit orchestra for the Westerville Civic Theatre's production of The Music Man. I'm also taking a group guitar class (I'm not very good yet!) and jazz saxophone lessons.

I also play alto recorder in a Baroque quartet. Recorder is the instrument that most of us experience in 4th or 5th grade as a cheap plastic "pre-band" instrument, but actually recorders come in a variety of sizes and voices, and have a deep history in Western music--particularly the 16th through 18th centuries. Professionals play on handcrafted wooden instruments that have a mellower, fuller sound than the plastic recorders. In my Baroque quartet, we play pieces by masters of the 18th century like Handel and Vivaldi (as well as many more obscure composers).

Finally, I am music director of the Buckeye Ukulele Society after picking up ukulele about a year ago! We're a casual group that gets together a couple of times a month for strumming and singing.

Q: Favorite place to eat in Columbus?
That's a tough call. In general, my favorite type of food is Mediterranean – and for that, I go to Mazah in Grandview. But for special occasions, probably my favorite is Moretti's in Upper Arlington --wonderful Italian food.

Q: Best concert you’ve ever been to?
As an audience member, a single best is not possible for me with my eclectic musical tastes! Here are a few: Manhattan Transfer in Bloomington, IN way back in 1986; Phil Collins in Chicago in 1991; Jason Mraz at the LC in 2007; Nickel Creek with Fiona Apple, also in 2007; Della Mae (an all-women bluegrass band) at Woodlands Tavern in 2012; Jake Shimabukuro (ukulele phenom) in Kent in 2013.

As a performer, the concert I'm most proud of is the Mediterranean Twelfth Night concert I performed in a few years ago (2009, I think?) with a medieval and Renaissance group here in town called The Early Interval. We played historical music from Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa, including some tricky quarter-tone stuff based on Arabic music!

Q: Favorite quote?
There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.  ~ Emile Zola.