CS Student working for Atos during Olympics

By Yatin Vadhia

Over the course of this summer, I had the opportunity to work for Atos for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and I was made aware of this opportunity through the University of Surrey. Here is a quick overview of my experience during London 2012 as a Service Desk Manager/Assistant Venue IT Manager.

During the 10 weeks I was employed, I was put through my paces in some of the most challenging and interesting, yet enjoyable events in my life. The first week took place in Canary Wharf and consisted of training, where I met 30-40 other colleagues, the majority of whom were students. I also met other colleagues from all around the world, some of whom worked during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, and others who had come from all across the world for a chance to take part in London 2012. Also during this week, we were given our venue assignments, and I was lucky enough to be chosen for one of the most unique venues;

Weymouth & Portland. Weymouth & Portland hosted the Sailing events for both the Olympics and Paralympics. For
the remaining 9 weeks I was relocated to Portland (as the 150 mile distance would’ve been impossible to commute) in an accommodation that had been provided by Atos. It was unique in the sense that it was the only place other than London to be host to a Venue, Village and UDAC (Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre) which, along with its remoteness, meant that the technological challenges were much greater.

During the first two weeks, I had additional training in day-to-day activities. This differed to the training I had already received in London, as that form of training was for less likely scenarios. I also began meeting my team that I would be managing on a day to day basis, which in total consisted of around 24 people. The bulk of this was made up of volunteers (a position for which I also applied for) along with teams from the different areas of technology. I also took part in the deployment of all the technology equipment to all the different areas during these weeks; and in doing so met many other key personnel in different areas of venue. Additionally, during the first two weeks, the first athletes started to arrive at the Sailing Village (next door to the sailing venue, but also under my remit) which presented the first opportunities to test some of the skills I had learnt during training. Most of the time issues were quite simple to resolve, however sometimes athletes had more complex and challenging problems; such as the ability to view MRI scans.

The Opening Ceremony began and the games were officially ‘open’, and I found my role was a bit quieter. While in most jobs this would be a bad thing, this was actually good. It meant that the work that had been put into planning and deploying the equipment in the first place had been carried out properly and the users of the technology (Media, Press, Athletes, Results, Print Distribution, Spectrum Management and other Olympic partners) were happy and were able to do their jobs.

Once the Sailing events had ended, we moved into a transition period, which meant converting the Sailing Village and Venue ready for the Paralympics. This meant ensuring that all desks and computing equipment could be used by all kinds of people with various disabilities. It was also a welcome break, as we were only scheduled one day off every ten during the run up to the Olympics and the Olympics, but during this period we had a few additional days off. However, as the Paralympics were a smaller event, it also meant we could begin removing bits of equipment that were not needed.

Once again, the Paralympics were executed without a hitch and the whole team were very happy about the way we as a team had behaved and the work we had done. It goes without saying that if you don’t realise that the technology is there, then it is doing its job. And then roughly 30 minutes after the last Sailing event and Victory Ceremony, we swung into full action packing up equipment to ensure it returned to its owners. I did find it amazing that while it may have taken the best part of two years to plan and deploy all the technology, it took just 40 hours to tear it all out and load up lorries to take it back.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time during London 2012 this summer. While it may I have meant that I had less time to socialise, I can say I was one of the few people who took part. Additionally, in the long run I have met many new friends and colleagues, all of whom were amazing people and the majority of which shared the same passion; to make London 2012 successful.

And boy did we pull it off.

Yatin is a 2nd Year Computer Science student at the University of Surrey. He is currently looking for a year long industrial placement between June 2013 to 2014. He wrote another blog post about Google coming to town.