The McGill community is full of silent heroes, from professors that grant extensions to the Super Sandwich depanneur guru, and, of course, club members that sell regulation samosas. However, McGill has another team of volunteers who rarely get the acknowledgement that they deserve: The Computer Taskforce (CTF). This integral organization works behind-the-scenes to provide tech services to students in the faculties of Science and Arts & Science, as well as U0 Nursing students, by ensuring that they have access to 24-hour computer labs, laptop rentals, workshops, and assistance with developing sites for campus-run initiatives. This group of volunteers help students meet their essay deadlines and ensure that they have access to a wide array of software and a seemingly endless flow of free printing credits.
Access to free printing within the Burnside Basement is reserved for Science and Arts & Science students, as the program is funded by their tuition costs. Despite this faculty restriction, CTF also engages with students outside of these two specific faculties. In an email to The McGill Tribune, Noah Zwack, Associate Chair of the McGill Science Computer Taskforce, explained how all students can benefit from CTF operations.
“Our services are primarily targeted at Science students, since they are the ones that pay into the fund we use for our operations,” Zwack wrote. “However, most of our services are available to students from other faculties. One thing people don’t usually know about CTF is that we can host websites for clubs for free, which allows clubs to create dynamic websites free of charge.”
For clubs and events at McGill, CTF plays a vital role since their tech expertise gives campus organizations better tools to communicate effectively with the student body. CTF even hosts elections for clubs using software designed by their volunteers. In addition to assisting McGill clubs, they hold numerous workshops to help Science students build skills that could prove useful after graduation.
“Our workshops are usually focused on a certain topic in computer science, as this is the audience most of our members fall into,” Zwack wrote. “We try to vary the types of workshops we hold, from more technical workshops [like a] Python tutorial [or] Intro to Machine Learning to more career focused ones, such as our most recent workshop where we brought in past graduates to talk about their path to finding careers in computer science.”
Recently, CTF developed a one-step website where all students can easily find their final exam schedule. This information can then be directly exported to a student’s calendar, with the date, time, location, and row number of each course’s final exam included, giving students access to a much simpler organization tool to prepare for exam season. These projects, inspired by their volunteers’ experiences as students on campus, highlight the club’s importance at McGill.
“While there are some organizations across campus that offer similar services that we do, I believe that the fact [that] we’re entirely run by student volunteers makes us unique and valuable,” Zwack wrote. “We understand students’ needs because we’re also students, so we can offer services that appeal more to them, such as the exam schedule viewer.”
Currently, the CTF team is working to help fund the renovation of Burnside Basement in collaboration with McGill and the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS). However, this is just one of the numerous projects CTF hopes to tackle through their allocated budget, and volunteers are always available to listen to student suggestions on how to allocate funds in regards to access to technology.
For students who want to help out the campus community or are interested in expanding their technology know-how, CTF recruits at the beginning of each year. As Zwack notes, CTF hopes their services are accessible to all students, especially those who help make their club a reality.
“We want to be known as an organization run by students, for Science students, so that they feel the money they paid into the fund is being well spent,” Zwack wrote.
For students interested in speaking with CTF volunteers or looking for opportunities to get involved, stop by Burnside 1B19 or send an email at [email protected].