Staff Profile: James (Jimi) Archer (B.S. ‘03/H&S), HASTech

The employees of HASTech, the College’s technology support services, are a mysterious bunch. After all, they are located in the basement of the Honors College. “We are down in our Batcave, always monitoring and watching,” says Jimi Archer, systems administrator and IT project manager. “You may not see us, but we are always thinking of our users.”
Jimi Archer and his wife and daughter

Jimi joined HASTech fulltime in 2007, but that was not his first introduction to the group. He started working for HASTech as an undergrad at VCU in 1999. His first job was as a lab monitor in Hibbs Hall. “I knew nothing about computers then, but as I learned I realized I had a knack for the technical,” he explains. He went on to become the lead tech student worker for HASTech during his time on campus. And though Jimi graduated from VCU with his B.S. in psychology and in sociology in 2003, he decided to forgo those interests in order to pursue a career in IT. He spent time at smaller companies learning the ins and outs of the IT world, from cabling and on-site tech support to management and analysis, before he returned to VCU.

Today, Jimi focuses on larger strategic initiatives for HASTech. “Think of the IT help desk as the front lines. They address day-to-day problems,” he explains. “I keep an ear open. If problems are reoccurring, I try to imagine new ways to address those issues and institute infrastructure to help. It’s a top-level approach.” Jimi is also in charge of imaging and provisioning all the computers at CHS, essentially setting up every computer with the necessary programs required for all faculty, staff and labs. “I have been imaging and provisioning for the last 12 years and I keep getting better at that process. I make sure that the computer doesn’t have unnecessary software and system settings that will cause lost productivity or general frustrations for our users. I standardize it, then test and retest. I try to get the computer as close to perfect in our shop before delivery to our customer.”

When asked about his proudest professional accomplishment, Jimi points to an early example. “When I first got here, I noticed that the main teaching computer labs stayed running all the time, even through the night. I used a wattage analyzer and figured out how much wattage was being used every hour—and how much energy was being wasted. I took that information to facilities to help calculate the electrical cost per building. Then I figured out how to shut down the machines at a certain interval to save energy,” says Jimi. “It took two years, but once it was all in place, it saved the College around $60,000 a year in energy costs. It’s not the biggest thing, but it’s something that we could do, and it has had a cumulative impact over the years.”

In his spare time, Jimi continues to keep abreast of the latest IT knowledge. He did his graduate work in technologies relating to homeland security and emergency preparedness, specifically disaster recovery and business continuity planning. “I am always tinkering. I am always trying to find new ways to learn and apply that knowledge. In the past year, I received two certifications from Amazon concerning cloud computing and infrastructure. I’m currently experimenting with AI voice assistant technologies,” says Jimi.

When he’s not on a computer, you can find Jimi spending time with his daughter and wife, and running a rental business. He also recently hung up his firefighter/EMT hat. Jimi had spent nine years with the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS, volunteering in his spare time. “I have been blessed with the capacity to think clearly and act when situations arise that would challenge the best of us,” says Jimi. “I couldn’t think of a better way to put that blessing into action than to help others in their time of need.”

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