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What’s happening in EUS: Journey through the WashU IT Quality Assurance (QA) Lab

As soon as you walk through the front door at 4480 Clayton, you are in a spacious, bright corridor diffused with light from the skylight above. Follow the corridor of the original section of the building to the newer section, and then keep going almost to the back of the building. Here, you will find the End User Services Quality Assurance (QA) Lab, Room 1504.  Open the door, and step inside. As the lights turn on, rows of tables line three walls, with two tiers of shelves above them. Across the middle of the room, a narrow row of tables is laden with laptops. There are desktop, all-in-one, laptop, and tablet computers on every surface, along with monitors, keyboards, mice, wires, adapters, and whatever else we happen to need at the time for testing.  

If you investigate a little, you’ll see a variety of computer models from 2015 up to our newest 2021 machines. Some are purchased new, and others are retired machines from elsewhere in the university. QA likes to maintain a selection of machines that are representative of models in current use. The team also needs to test with newer machines stocked by the Depot, so they typically add to our arsenal each year as new machine models are released.

In order to support all these machines and the diversity of our testing, the lab has a large number of network connections. A mass of blue wires extends from the center of the floor to the central tables to connect laptops, these are all WUCON lines. The shelving and tables are surrounded by green wires that connect the desktops, all-in-ones, laptops, and tablets. In addition to WUCON lines, you can find a few red BJC lines, some blue WUCON lines that are 802.x NAC-enabled, and perhaps a white Charter line or two.  This might seem like a lot of lines, but there are never enough network connections for everything. Machines not connected to wired networks will be set up for WiFi testing. Usually, they connect to either WUSM-Secure for on-campus testing, or our Charter WiFi to emulate a home internet setup.

 End User Services supports a number of operating systems (OS’s) for Macs and PCs. In the QA Lab, we can build our machines to any of these OS’s, as long as the hardware supports it. Currently, the team is testing with macOS Catalina, Big Sur, and Monterey. On the Windows side, we test with Windows 7, Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) versions 1909, 20H2 and 21H2.

For a final look around the lab, you’ll spot the network printer, the Charter router, and a scattering of adapters and devices in use for whatever we’re testing at the moment. Some of the devices must be used for testing frequently, so we keep them in the lab. Others are so specific for one use that we will need to borrow them in order to test one project. 

 Within 15 minutes of stepping out of the QA lab and closing the door, the lights will dim, and then turn off. If you looked back through the narrow glass in the door, you might see that the computers are testing themselves. Our QA team routinely uses BeyondTrust for remote testing, but we always have a human available for tasks that must be performed manually, such as imaging or switching network connections. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by for a visit and a personal tour.