Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Staff Spotlight- Alex Ruiz, Systems Administrator

Alex Ruiz is a Systems Administrator for Weinberg College IT.

How long have you been working at Northwestern?

I have been working at Northwestern University for almost 11 years now. I started working as a temp, right before the 2008 recession, and was hired full time in 2010.

What is your role at Weinberg College IT?

My role has evolved since I started working at Northwestern, currently my role is Systems Administrator. However, now I split my duties between systems and Information Security. People need help with their technology, or most accurately, people need help adopting new technology. Our roles in Systems Administration are akin to being architects and engineers building bridges, only our bridges assist and enhance our faculty, staff and researchers to get to a place where they can perform their work without worrying about what happens behind the [digital] curtains.

What made you get into IT?

In one word – curiosity. I started playing around with screwdrivers and tools at an early age; I took apart several clock radios (remember those?) and successfully put them back together, albeit not fully functional during my first attempts. I took some programming courses in high school, which were part of the curriculum, and that sparked my curiosity a bit further about trying to find how things worked. As I grew older, I focused more on the human and technology interactions, which in turn made me get into the customer support field. Nowadays, technology has become intrinsic to daily life, and as great as it is to have technology that makes our lives better and easier, it has also become a double edge sword. Therefore, technology needs to be innovative yet conservative; open and available, yet secure. And, this is where my career is taking me to date, trying to understand how to maintain an open field of technology that will enhance teaching and research, while at the same time securing those technologies and best practices to prevent nefarious individuals from abusing it.

What project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

Currently, I am working on building an Information Security Awareness program/campaign for Weinberg College. This entails creating a website, documentation to distribute to our community, as well as planning a presentation/talk at some point; in hopes to inform the college about the benefits of maintaining a secure digital environment, and to help guide people to adopt best practices when using technology regardless if it’s their personally owned device or their university computer. I like the challenge of the project, especially translating “computer lingo” into plain terms.

If you weren’t in IT, what do you think you’d be doing?

That’s a tough question, there are many things I can think I’d be doing if I weren’t in the IT field. Ideally, my altruistic career would be that of presiding over a non-for profit focused on mentoring underprivileged youth, at risk or otherwise, in need of guiding. Primarily, children from families who are first generation in the United States, who don’t fully understand the educational system.

What’s something you like to do outside of work?

I am a soccer enthusiast, and I like to play the sport whenever possible. I am a handyperson by hobby, I like to work with my hands, and I keep myself occupied by fixing things at home. I like to disconnect from the digital noise after work, I tend to go out on long walks, hiking, or hammocking with a good book during warm weather season, or enjoy an evening of catching up with friends.

Back to top