We Are IT | Meet Darryl Sims
Darryl Sims grew up around computers, but he took a few scenic drives through teaching and communication careers before he found the perfect blend of his passions as an IT manager with the Computing Technology Support team. In his role, Darryl manages and trains the team that provides desktop support to more than 5,000 customers across the university. Computers, communication and teaching, all rolled into one. Apropos for someone who was named after a robot.
Where are you from?
I am from Miami, Florida.
Where did you attend school?
I grew up in Miami, but I wanted to get as far away from Miami and the South as possible. And I wanted to go to a historically black college and university (HBCU), which is a tradition in my family. So, I chose the furthest north HBCU I could find—Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. It was the first ever HBCU, founded in 1837. I got my undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in communications. Then I went to Full Sail University in Orlando for my master’s degree in entertainment business.
Why did you choose to work in technology?
My dad was a COBOL programmer, so growing up in my house, I was always around computers. I used them a lot and therefore learned how to fix them as a form of entertainment. I even fixed computers as a side business in high school and college. It has always been a hobby.
Then, after I got out of undergrad, I started teaching. In my family, teaching is almost a tradition. My grandfather was the first black principal in the state of Connecticut. My grandmother, mother, aunt and brothers have all been teachers at some point. I enjoyed teaching, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be forever.
So, I decided I needed to make a change. Communicating with people was something I had a strong skill set in, so when I got to FSU, I started with the Service Management team. From there, I branched out and joined the Computing Technology Support team and started helping people with their computers.
The things I do naturally all joined together to get me in this position.
How long have you been at FSU?
Since August 2014.
What is your role at FSU?
My primary role is to support departments that purchase and subscribe to the ITS desktop support service. I am the liaison to those departments for all things IT—from “my mouse isn’t working” to “I need to order 17 machines”—and help them identify the technological solutions that best meet their needs.
I manage the Departmental Information Technology Support team, which provides onsite and remote technical support to the departments. I train the team, giving them the skills needed to troubleshoot any issues customers may have with a machine or related technology. Because we are an entry-level team, we can find or develop very good talent, but we can never hold onto it. I try to look on the bright side in that we are giving people the opportunity to gain skills and discover if this is the career path they want to follow. I am still using my teaching skills from my former profession to train future IT professionals and enhance not only FSU, but their careers going forward.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Helping people solve problems. Getting to the source of the problem or being the source of the solution is very rewarding. It can make you feel like you are doing the right thing and that people are glad that you are around. It is nice to interact with people and know that they value and enjoy you being around. And helping people solve problems can certainly facilitate that.
What is the most rewarding project you have worked on at FSU?
Surprisingly to some, in my current position, I don’t work on major projects all that often. There are a lot of projects I get brought into to assist, but our day-to-day operations keep us very busy. We support over 5,000 machines, so just making sure all the people we support can do their daily jobs and not experience issues is enough. If we are doing it right, we don’t really feel the impact.
Other than your cellphone, what is your go-to, can't-live-without piece of tech?
My Steam Deck. It is a portable PC gaming device. It was announced last year in July. I got on a waiting list and received mine in July of this year. And it is amazing. It is an everyday-use device for me. I cannot stop playing with it. I love video games, and this device makes it more convenient to play them. It is a gaming machine I can use anywhere—in any room of the house or even traveling. I play way more games now than I did over the last few years.
If you were to invent one piece of technology, what would it be?
If there was something I could own the patent on, it would be battery tech. People do not use computers as much or as often as they should because batteries die. Batteries are the biggest obstacle. It is why we don’t have integrated batteries in all sorts of everyday devices. That is what I would put focus and energy into trying to revolutionize. So that the stuff we love can last longer.
What is a fun fact about you?
I was named after a movie.
In my family, there is a tradition on my mother’s side of the family where the oldest child is named by the father, the second child is named by the mother and the third child is named by the oldest child. My father named my oldest brother George. My mother named my second brother Charles. And my oldest brother named me Darryl, after his favorite movie from 1985, D.A.R.Y.L., which stands for data analyzing robot youth lifeform. My mom added an extra “r.” She vetoed his first choice of “Big Bird.”
Talk a little bit about your family.
I have two older brothers and my mother. My father unfortunately passed last year, and my grandfather recently passed and was admitted into Arlington National Cemetery in June.
What do you do in your free time?
Uh, sleep. As much as humanly possible. Otherwise, role-playing video games.