Greg Oster stands in front of an instructional lab
Greg Oster is the technical team lead in the College of Arts and Science, Department of Computer Science. (Photo: Ellen Redlick))

Computer Science Technical Team Lead Receives President’s Staff Excellence Award

This prestigious award is given annually to staff members who not only achieve excellence but also embody the university’s Mission, Vision, and Values, thereby playing a key role in realizing the goals of the University Plan 2025.


Greg Oster’s commitment to helping students and faculty formed while an undergraduate student at USask.

“I was bitten by the 'research bug' as an undergraduate summer student and became very interested in research,” said Oster, who is the technical team lead in the Department of Computer Science. “In this job I get to work with state-of-the-art computing equipment and often get to look at the deep technical details underlying new technology.

“Being able to help students and see them become excited about learning and research is very rewarding.”

Oster is one of this year’s two recipients of the President’s Staff Excellence Award. Amongst his many contributions to the university was helping to create a lab configuration to allow computer science students to write final exams in the computer labs, supporting the university’s values of innovation, creativity, integrity, and ethical behaviour. Prior to this computer-based exam setup coming online, computer science students had to write their entire exams, including their computer programs, on paper.

Oster's contributions to the department have played a pivotal role in supporting students and research at USask.

Oster and his team created a secure testing environment within the computer science teaching labs in Spinks where students are now able to write their exams on the same lab computers that they are familiar using and within a secure environment that deters cheating. 

“The integrity of the exam writing process is very important to the reputation of the university, and a number of our faculty wanted an exam environment where that integrity could be preserved as much as possible,” said Oster. “Over time, our team has incrementally improved the technical environment surrounding computer-based exams (i.e. firewalls, proxies, etc.) to the point where students must be sitting at a designated computer in order to take the exam.” 

This helps to ensure that computer science final exams are fair for every student, including those who require academic accommodations.

“Greg’s team also supported several AES (Access and Equity Services) students by setting up lab computers in private rooms within Spinks, because this exam format could not be delivered within the AES offices,” said computer science professor Ian Stavness, who nominated Oster for the award. “The preparation and effort required to build this system, adapt it to individual exams, and provide support during the exams, is a tremendous and meritorious undertaking.” 

Oster’s impact on student success goes beyond the technical role in his labs. He takes an active role in their studies, always there to help with problems. He supports the Computer Science Students’ Society by allowing them to book lab space for their meetings, making sure they have everything they need for their events and meetings.

“I believe that my job is really about enabling others to grow and to achieve their goals,” said Oster. “For a student, that might mean guiding them through a learning experience or providing some other resource that allows them to complete some task. My hope is that in ‘leading by example’ the students will then go on to help others in the same way.”

His impact on the computer science department, faculty, students, and the university is evident through his dedication to his work.

“The number of times Greg has gone in after hours to bring systems back on-line is too numerous to remember,” said computer science professor Raymond Spiteri. “The simple knowledge that Greg has set up world-class computing facilities, and is there to get systems back on-line no matter when the call comes in, is a significant psychological support to the faculty and students in the department.

“I find it hard to fully describe how much we as a department have benefited from Greg’s dedication and commitment over the years.”

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