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Rob Lowden recognized as Laureate by the Computerworld Honors Program

Rob Lowden, director of Enterprise System Infrastructure for IU's University Information Technology Services (UITS), has been recognized as a Laureate by the Computerworld Honors Program. Lowden was named a Laureate for his leading role in a major IT infrastructure project that has enabled more efficient, flexible, and secure management of technology resources across all Indiana University campuses. Lowden led the research, identification and implementation of a new Storage Area Network (SAN) that allows for faster and more stable support for numerous crucial IU systems that include Oncourse CL and OneStart, as well as the university's financial management and human resources systems.

Rob Lowden, director of Enterprise System Infrastructure for IU's University Information Technology Services (UITS), has been recognized as a Laureate by the Computerworld Honors Program. This year's Honorees will be commemorated during the 20th Annual Laureates Medal Ceremony & Gala Awards Evening on June 2, 2008, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. For two decades, Computerworld Honors has acknowledged those individuals and organizations that have used information technology to benefit society.

Lowden was named a Laureate for his leading role in a major IT infrastructure project that has enabled more efficient, flexible, and secure management of technology resources across all Indiana University campuses. Lowden led the research, identification and implementation of a new Storage Area Network (SAN) that allows for faster and more stable support for numerous crucial IU systems that include Oncourse CL and OneStart, as well as the university's financial management and human resources systems.

"Each Laureate selected for this honor understands the importance of using one's resources and technical prowess to benefit one's fellow man," said Bob Carrigan, Chairman of the Computerworld Honors Program Chairmen's Committee and President, IDG Communications.

In his ten years with UITS, Lowden, a graduate of Purdue University, has worked at every level of the organization, from frontline, face-to-face user interaction, to large-scale strategic planning and implementation.

Lowden began his career at IU in 1998 as a network administrator in the Adaptive Educational Services computer lab at IUPUI, working with computing accessibility issues for ability-impaired students. He soon joined UITS Support Services in the frontline support center before moving to a small Oncourse team exploring the potential of the new application.

"There were two of us," said Lowden of his early days on the Oncourse team. "We shared a table and a phone in the basement. It was a grass roots effort, and we were there to see [then-Vice President for Information Technology and current IU President] Michael McRobbie initiate the original Information Technology Strategic Plan for IU, in 1998."

The IT Strategic Plan created a new series of challenges and opportunities for IU and UITS, and by 2004 Lowden was an Oncourse group manager, working to strengthen the growing open source community across all of higher education.

"Advancing open source and the Sakai project, I worked with faculty and staff at IU, as well as universities all over the world. It amazes me that I went from working in the basement with our little team to speaking in front of IT groups at Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, MIT and Cambridge."

Following the establishment of the Sakai Foundation—which would ensure the maintenance and growth of open source efforts—Lowden moved on to Enterprise Infrastructure.

"The move to infrastructure was a night and day difference," said Lowden. "Infrastructure brings more of a sense of order and predictability. The challenges are more detail-oriented and methodical. I look at it as more reminiscent of my time in the military."

Before IU, that military service took Marion, Indiana, native Lowden across the world, from presidential inaugurations in Washington, D.C. to Pearl Harbor, as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Navy.

In the early nineties, during the Persian Gulf War, Lowden interrupted his college career to enlist in the armed forces.

"I felt compelled to provide my services to the country," he said. For the next several years Lowden attended, among numerous other events, the inauguration of President Bill Clinton and the funeral of President Richard Nixon as a member of the Presidential Honor Guard in Washington, D.C.

Then it was on to Pearl Harbor, where Lowden served on the U.S.S. Willamette, a replenishment oiler ship in the Nimitz Carrier Battle Group.

"I loved traveling and working in that part of the world," said Lowden of the frequent sailings from Pearl Harbor to the Middle East. "There were some amazing opportunities. I swam in numerous oceans. I was able to visit Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Abu Dhabi, Dubai. I had a great time."

Onboard his ship, Lowden earned Surface Warfare qualification—signifying a working knowledge of the ship's operations—and learned as much as he could from his fellow sailors.

"I learned from what was going on around me, often informally," he said. "Other guys might watch movies in their down time. I'd go out and spend time with someone working with computers and ask them questions. I wanted to get something out of my time."

In the late nineties, Lowden decided to move on from the Navy, and to fulfill a promise that he made to his parents before he enlisted.

"I promised them that I would finish college," he said. He took his interest in computing and soon completed a degree in Computer Technology.

"I've had a bottom-up experience at UITS," said Lowden. "And in that way my experiences in the Navy and with UITS are similar. From square one there was always opportunity. There has always been someone willing to teach you and to expose you to areas outside of your own expertise. A lot of that has to do with great leadership under people like Brad Wheeler, Dennis Cromwell, Darren Overfelt, Barry Walsh, and Jay Fern. They let me fail, and learn from my mistakes. I have a profound appreciation for that."

About the Computerworld Honors Program

Founded by International Data Group (IDG) in 1988, the Computerworld Honors Program is governed by the not-for-profit Computerworld Information Technology Awards Foundation. In its 20th year, Computerworld Honors is the longest running global program to honor individuals and organizations that use information technology to benefit society.

Each year, the program's Chairmen's Committee, a group of 100 Chairmen/CEOs of global technology companies, nominates individuals and organizations around the world whose visionary application of information technology promotes positive social and economic progress. Nominations are evaluated by an independent board of CIO-level judges who select Laureates, Finalists and award recipients, in 10 industry-related categories, to be honored at the Laureate Medal Ceremony. This year's ceremony and accompanying Gala Awards Evening will take place on June 2, 2008 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

The technology achievements honored by this program are preserved and protected in national archives, and in over 350 universities, museums and research institutions throughout the world. Additional information about the program and a Global Archive of past Laureate case studies and oral histories can be found at the Computerworld Honors web site: www.cwhonors.org.