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5 Questions

with Mark Sobczak, Computer Technician , The Jackson Laboratory

Q: Are you originally from Maine?

A: No, I grew up and went to high school in the Buffalo, New York, area. I first came to the Maine coast, at Winter Harbor, when I was in the Navy.

Q: When did you join the Navy?

A: What I learned at college was that I wasn't quite mature enough to get a lot out of it at that time. So I joined the Navy, and that's where I began to work with computers. I retired in 1996 after 20 years.

Q: How did you come to the Laboratory?

A: I moved to Maine and applied to the computing department in 1996 after leaving the Navy. There wasn't a job for me there, but I was hired to work in a mouseroom in December. I worked there for about 18 months, then, after a very short time in customer service, I went to IT as a computer technician.

Q: What do you do in your job?

A: I help people use their computing equipment, whether it's setting up hardware, helping them with software upgrades that IT pushes out, getting them up and running after power glitches, that sort of thing. But given how dynamic the computer field is, the specifics of what I do are always changing.

Q: Do you like your work?

A: I love working here! I've always liked taking things apart—fortunately, during my time in the Navy I learned how to put them back together again too [laughs]. And 11 years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and everyone has been helpful and willing to work with me. My supervisor in particular has been my guardian angel through it all.

Bonus question

Q: During your time in the Navy, were you posted other places besides Maine?

A: Yes, absolutely, several places around the world. Iceland and Scotland were interesting. The thing that struck me about Iceland was the total absence of trees, just a barren, volcanic landscape. And I remember having haggis and kippers and sausages for breakfast at a Scottish B&B—that's something different! I also spent a year in Diego Garcia, which was like Gilligan's Island, with sharks all around it. It's an atoll in the Indian Ocean, under British authority. It also has a distinctive kind cat living there, which have very long tails. It's a beautiful place, and I enjoyed my tour there.