Professional Capacity Building (PCB) for Communications Update - July 23rd, 2019


UPDATE: Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Ron Le Croix Training Center
Woodland, California
October 8-12, 2018

Another successful training course has been developed and delivered through the Professional Capacity Building for Communications project! Small Data Center Design, Structured Cabling, and Grounding was taught by Philip Isaak, President of Isaak Technologies, October 8-12, 2018. Twelve Caltrans ITS engineers from Districts 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10 attended. These districts operate a variety of ITS systems to address and mitigate rural transportation challenges.

TMCs collect and process data from ITS field elements. That data can be used to make decisions and implement management strategies. The TMC also disseminates traveler information to the public. How all of this is accomplished involves many variables, systems, and sub-systems, and varies considerably depending on the specific purpose of the TMC. With that said, there are several concepts and competencies related to small data centers and TMCs that Caltrans ITS engineers should possess and be able to effectively implement. This formed the basis for the course’s content and guided its development.

Students listen to instructor Phil Isaak while following along in their course materials. Course instructor Phil Isaak explains a concept during the Small Data Center, Structured Cabling, and Grounding class.

The course was a full five-day (40 hours), engineering intensive training with a high level of technical detail. Students learned some of the fundamental elements of an effective design for a new TMC data center as well as for upgrading and retrofitting an existing TMC. Structured cabling and grounding as related to TMC data centers were focus points of the course. Lab exercises included evaluating multiple structured cabling designs to address various network architectures and topologies, designing a new TMC data center, as well as retrofitting and upgrading an existing TMC. Specific topics included:

  • Project Process
  • Contract Relationships
  • Applications and Systems
  • Reliability and Redundancy (risk, reliability, and class ranking)
  • Network
  • Structured Cabling
  • Computer Room Layout
  • Racks, Cabinets, and Pathways
  • Power and Grounding
  • ITE Power and Grounding
  • Cooling
  • Facility
  • Security and Life Safety Systems
  • Monitoring, Control and Automation
  • Detailed Computer Room Layout and Structured Cabling Lab
  • Commissioning
  • Final Design Exercise

Students worked individually and in groups on each of the lab exercises and then discussed their work with the instructor. An important part of the course was having the opportunity for students to practice new skills and apply knowledge with the guidance of their peers and the instructor.

Sam Campos (left) and Shima Afshari (center) from Caltrans District 6 work together with their colleagues from Caltrans District 10 on one of the lab exercises. Andrew Chang from Caltrans District 3 works through one of the lab exercises during the small data center design class. Students from Caltrans District 3 discuss their lab work with the course instructor.  (Left to Right: David Busler, Gurdeep Sidhu, Andrew Chang, Phil Isaak) Students from Caltrans Districts 2 and 5 review their lab work with instructor Phil Isaak. (Left to Right: Phil Isaak, Steven Gee, Mike Beyer, Lonnie Hobbs, Keith Koeppen)

Modules included lab exercises which, like the curriculum, were organized to follow the steps through the design process – e.g., defining the organizational profile, procurement method, server capacity planning, storage capacity planning, operational and availability requirements, impact of downtime, network architecture and topology, computer room size, component details, ITE power capacity planning, UPS and generator configuration, cooling system components and electrical distribution, and facility rooms/spaces. Students developed and evaluated detailed structured cabling designs. The final lab exercise pulled all of the course work together and asked students to apply what they had learned by developing a design to retrofit an existing 15-year-old Class 1 TMC data center into a Class 3 data center.

Sam Campos, Caltrans District 6, and Steven Gee, Caltrans District 5, network and discuss Rural ITS during a break. Students gather around course instructor Phil Isaak as he reviews one group's lab exercise.

As with previous PCB training courses, this one provided an opportunity for students to network and collaborate with their peers in different parts of California. They finished the course with knowledge and ideas for application in their respective districts.

Photos by Leann Koon