Mike Waldron will retire June 30 after 14 years with ITS Research Computing group at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Waldron started at Research Computing when it was a part of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) organization, just before Research Computing moved to ITS the same year. He brought seasoned Unix systems experience, having worked at AT&T and then at IBM before coming to Carolina.
Always pitches in
His teammates Jenny Williams and Steven Fishback tell a story of Waldron’s first days on the job as the AIX administrator. A critical Oracle database had gone down. Then-director, Ruth Marinshaw, tapped Waldron to try and fix it, as the primary administrator was on vacation. Waldron diligently worked on the unfamiliar system until it was back up.
“But that is Mike as a teammate,” Williams said. “He is a quiet leader who most of us have leaned on for help many times.”
Waldron “always pitches in and always seeks an exact understanding of the issue at hand,” Fishback said. “He never complains and always remains calm even in high-pressure situations.”
Worked on every cluster
Besides being a good teammate, Waldron brought a great deal of skill to Research Computing. He is the designer and maintainer of the current Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) system, which serves many researchers, faculty and students with a virtual machine imaging, scheduling and reservation system.
Waldron is also a key component of the supercomputing clusters that Research Computing hosts. He has worked on every cluster at Carolina, focusing primarily on building and managing the operating systems and software packaging systems. The Research Computing group has a myriad of examples of Waldron, directly or through countless assists to his teammates, using his talents to bring back systems, services or projects from failure.
Still deciding what’s next
Away from work, Waldron enjoys spending time with his wife of 26 years, Beth, and his son, Evan, a recent graduate of NC State University. For fun, the Chapel Hill resident likes playing with farm tractors and flying in small planes with his son, who is preparing to be a flight instructor and eventually a commercial pilot.
For now, Waldron is uncertain about plans for life after retirement. “I am not sure what I want to do next,” he said. “But after a 38-year working career, I look forward to making those plans while being free of the stress of an IT System Administrator’s life.”
Waldron was absolute, though, about his desire to highlight his time at UNC-Chapel Hill and what it meant to him.
“The people at UNC are good and the work that is being done is much more rewarding to support than in my corporate jobs.” he said. “My teammates are also great to work with and I feel like I have good relationships with each of them.”
From all accounts, the feeling is mutual.