Computer Services for Faculty

Most services to School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) Faculty are provided directly by the local support organization, Computing and Information Technology Services (CETS). CETS also manages local support for computer services provided by other organizations at the University of Pennsylvania, such as the Registrar, Human Resources, etc.

CETS is a good first point of contact for all technical issues. If it is something that we don't handle, we generally know the best way to get it done.

The most effective way to request service from CETS is to send an email message to, or fill out the Problem Report web form. This will create a "ticket" in our tracking system which will be assigned to the person best able to solve the problem. Messages to an individual staff member may sit in that person's mailbox while they are out of the office, or busy with other tasks.

If you need immediate assistance, for example if you are teaching a class and the projector isn't working, please call 215-898-4707. Be sure to tell the person that you are teaching a class and need immediate assistance.

You can also search our FAQ database at CETS Answers.

Jump to:
Accounts | Advising Support | Anti-Spam and Anti-Virus | Audio Visual Support | Backups | Computer Hardware | Computer Labs | Disk Space | Equipment with Attached Computers | Firewall | FAQ | Graduate Admissions | Human Resources | Mailing Lists | Network Connectivity | No | Updates/ Patches | Recording a class or talk | Research Computing | Software purchasing, licenses, or installation | Web Services


PennKey name/password is used to access most university online services. People new to Penn normally get their PennKey setup code when they get their PennID cards. For guests without PennID cards, contact for assistance. There is a single "namespace" at Penn for usernames, which means that a name taken anywhere at Penn is not available to someone else.

SEAS accounts are available to all faculty, staff and students of Penn Engineering. The SEAS machines provide email, file service and computer service. Here are instructions for configuring email.

Google@SEAS accounts are also available with apps for email, calendar, file sharing and collaboration. Google@SEAS has advantages over a personal (free) Google account. Grades and other student information maybe sent through SEAS email or Google@SEAS, but may not be sent from or to a personal Google account or other non Penn email service.

Accounts on research computers are authorized by the Principal Investigators whose grants acquired the computers.

Advising Support

Faculty members can get information about student records from Advisor InTouch. However, individual access must first be established through the Academic Programs Office, In addition, faculty members can get lists and pictures of their advisees from IRQDB.

Anti-Spam and Anti-Virus

CETS uses a spam filtering service to substantially reduce the amount of spam you will get in your inbox. If you are receiving a large quantity of spam, please contact CETS so we can help.

Incoming email to the SEAS mail server is scanned for viruses. Several types of email attachments are always deleted, because they are almost always viruses. Here is a list of these types.

The remaining email messages are scanned for strings matching anti-virus signatures, and for patterns of words or phrases that usually appear in spam or phishing messages.

CETS operates a Symantec Antivirus "push" service, which can send signatures of new viruses to your PC/Windows desktop automatically. This protects you from new viruses with no action on your part. For your home system or laptop, download the software and install it, then get new anti-virus signatures from Symantec on a regular basis. Even though your incoming email is usually protected from all but the newest viruses, viruses can spread through methods other than email.

Audio-visual support in the classroom

Most classrooms in the Engineering School buildings have projectors, laptop jacks and installed computers, which are set up exactly like the Student Computer Labs. For information on large auditorium a/v facilities within SEAS, contact It is important to test the software and features in advance, to ensure that they work as you expect. CETS technicians are available to provide equipment walkthroughs for any of our classrooms or auditoriums. Audio recording is available in the auditoriums in Towne, Levine, Skirkanich and LRSM, using the installed microphones. Advance arrangements are required.


The SEAS file system is backed up nightly and snapshots are made five times a day. It is also mirrored, for instant recovery from disk failure. CETS provides free Crashplan backups for one desktop and one laptop computer (running Windows or OS X) for faculty members, and one desktop computer for staff whose salary is funded by the SEAS academic budget. Additional backup services for research computers are available for a fee or as part of the CIS Service Center.

Computer Hardware

Please check with CETS before purchasing a computer with University funds. We can provide configuration advice and help you to avoid buying equipment with known problems, or that is incompatible with our environment. CETS does not provide funds to purchase personal computers for faculty or staff.

When purchasing a new machine, CETS can provide assistance with transferring work files from old machines to new machines, and with disposing old hardware a safe and ecologically responsible manner.

Computer Labs

Computer Labs for general course support are provided by CETS. Both Linux and Windows labs are available. Labs may be reserved for classes; advance arrangements are required. To request a lab, use the Lab Reservation form. Engineering users have access to their SEAS disk space from all CETS Computer Labs.

Course Support

Any Engineering course can use Canvas. Students are automatically loaded into course sites. Scanning of course material is provided by the Penn Engineering Library, contact Canvas sites must be requested every semester, to enable loading of the semester’s enrolled students. Alternatively, faculty members may create their own course web sites using a course account on SEAS. Many software packages are installed in the student computer labs. Additional software packages may be purchased for the student labs at faculty request; however, the budget for that is based the enrollment of the course. To request course-related software, a Canvas course site or a course email/web account contact

Faculty members can get lists and pictures of their students in their classes. Access is enabled automatically using PennKey account, based on the instructor of record in the Registrar’s database.

Disk Space

Standard disk space allocation for faculty at SEAS is 20GB. The disk is available on the network, backed up and may be mounted on a variety of operating systems. Additional space is available for a fee or through the CIS Service Center. Space for file sharing is available on Penn+Box (50GB) and Google@SEAS (unlimited).

Equipment with Attached Computers

Scientific equipment usually lasts much longer than the computer attached to it. CETS will work with researchers to secure computers with old operating systems, such that the scientific equipment continues to work.


Most incoming and outgoing network traffic is not firewalled. At the SEAS border router, some ports are blocked when they are used for active exploits. Typical ports blocked include 53, 69, 135, 139, 161, 162, 445, and some higher numbered ports. Port 80, which is the normal web port, is blocked for all computers except web servers registered with CETS. This prevents people from unintentionally activating web services. In addition, you may choose to put your computer behind a network firewall. At the desktop level, CETS supports software firewalls on Windows, Macs, and Linux machines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions about computer facilities in SEAS are located at CETS Answers.

Graduate Student Admissions

Information about graduate applicants is available on the Prospective Graduate Students page. Access is set up by the departments, using PennKey for authentication.

Human Resources

Information related to employment at Penn is located at and, including pay, benefits and personal profile information. Access uses PennKey account.

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are available using Mailman software. Each list needs a list administrator, who chooses the set-up options and who may accept/reject postings if the list is moderated. A mailing list is automatically set up for each course section, with the address, such as for CSE 110, section 001 taught during fall 2004. By default, only the faculty member teaching the course may send email to the list. Information about class mailing lists is available at

Network Connectivity

Penn Engineering is connected to the Internet and Internet2 through redundant gigabit connections to PennNet. All offices and labs have Ethernet jacks installed. IPv4 addresses are provided by DHCP after authentication. IPv6 connectivity is also available through stateless autoconfiguration. Within Penn Engineering, network connections are typically 100 Mbit. Higher speed networking (up to 1 Gbit) is available for research projects; this may involve installation fees. The campus-wide AirPennNet wireless network is available throughout the Engineering buildings.

Be sure to check with CETS before setting up any wireless access point or wireless router in a SEAS building, as it will probably disrupt our wireless network.


There are some services that CETS does not provide.

  • CETS does not do home support visits to faculty, staff or students. CETS does not provide computer support for family members of faculty or staff. However, we can refer to a recommended company.
  • CETS does not do programming for research projects. We suggest hiring students instead.
  • CETS does not purchase personal computers for faculty members. Computers are purchased from other unrestricted funds. However, we will configure computers, manage them, install software and do network support for PCs.
  • Usually CETS does not provide free software for faculty, staff and students. In some cases, CETS purchases

Operating System Updates and Patches

On computers managed by CETS, updates are installed automatically. To arrange patching of other Unix systems for research, contact CETS about fees. All Windows PCs should be configured to install updates automatically from the Windows Update Service. For Mac, use the automated update system from the Apple. If you run any other operating system or if you run multiple operating systems on your computer, it is your responsibility to keep it patched. A University policy requires that all computers connected to Pennnet have their critical vulnerabilities patched within 2 business days.

Research Computing Support

In general, faculty members provide funds through research grants for computing resources used for research by themselves and their students.

In the CIS Service Center, through a capitation rate on all CIS Ph.D. students, standard desktop computers and enhanced systems administration support are provided. In addition, the CIS Service Center pays for maintenance and service of research servers. For information about the CIS Service Center, contact

CETS provides assistance on specifications for research computers. Also, system administration service is available, charged by the hour. Network-attached, backed-up disk space is available, charged by the gigabyte. CETS also provides a wide range of systems administration and design services for High Performance Computing on Linux needs. Contact

Software purchasing, licenses, or installation

Site licenses and special discounts are available for several software packages. Before purchasing software using university funds, please contact CETS so that we can check if special licensing or pricing is available. CETS staff will install software on CETS managed machines.

Share Documents Securely

All SEAS faculty and staff can use Google@SEAS and Penn+Box to share files securely. See the Share Documents Securely Answers article for more information about these services.

Web Services

From any SEAS account, personal web pages may be served to the internet using a Linux/Apache web server. Several other web services are available, including the ability to create CGI scripts for coursework and course support. See the CGI Access Answers article for more information.

Research labs may run their own web servers, but they need to be registered with CETS and security needs to be maintained on the servers. Security may be managed by the researchers themselves, by contract with CETS or as part of the CIS Service Center.