Student Computing Orientation

Division of Biostatistics Student Computing Orientation

Welcome new students!
The purpose of this document is to introduce you to the DBE/CCEB computing resources available and standard procedures. Also noted are links to other useful resources available from Penn and Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services (PMACS).

The Division holds a compulsory student computing session at the start of each academic year to cover network and data security issues. The slides from 2016 are available here.

Computing Policies

Each person with access to the University's computing resources is responsible for their appropriate use and by their use agrees to comply with all applicable University, School, and departmental policies and regulations.

The University’s information security policies, privacy policies, network policies, and guidelines are available at:

The DBE/CCEB Computing Policies are available at:

CCEB IT / Help Wiki

If you are looking for answers to computing questions, the first place to look is the
CCEB IT Wiki -

The CCEB IT Wiki is an information repository containing a number of resources for faculty, staff, and students. Topics include Linux help, network drives, using the Grid, setting up remote access, computing policies, computing forms (PhD project directory), etc.

Wireless Access at Penn

AirPennNet proves wireless internet access throughout most of the campus. You will need to go to the above site to configure your computer / mobile device before being able to connect.

File Storage

Limited personal files, such as photographs, music files, etc., may be stored on the local hard drive of the computer. Note: these drives are not backed up. In the event of a computer crash, the files will not be recovered! Recommended: use a flash drive for storage of personal files.

If you are working with a faculty member on a research (RA) project, ALL FILES related to this project should be stored in a network project directory. To request a project directory be created use the project directory request form (linked to on the computing wiki)
Note: A student cannot own a project directory; a faculty member must be listed as the primary “owner” of the project directory with a student listed as having access.

It is strongly encouraged that a student create a PhD project directory with their advisor when they start dissertation work to ensure files are backed up and to prevent duplicate storage of large files. Biostat students can use the PhD directory request form to get a PhD network directory.

Files on network drives are backed up daily. Only project related files should be stored here. Personal files will be deleted if found to be stored on a network drive.


As a Penn student, you have access to 50GB of secure cloud storage via Penn+Box. Files in Penn+Box can be shared with others. You may NOT store confidential data (such as ePHI data) on Penn+Box. For more information see the Penn computing webpage on Penn+Box, or login here using your PennKey.

Getting Help

Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services (PMACS) provides our desktop support. Help request can be submitted through the on-line helpdesk support ticket system or via calling extension 34531.

General computing usage / resource questions (not questions about how to use a particular software package) or computing issues that are not being resolved by PMACS, can be brought to the attention of the department’s computing committee. The current chair of the committee is Sarah Ratcliffe, the student representative is Edward Kennedy.

Martin Das (603 Blockley) provides our Biostatistics Software expertise/Tier 2 computing support. If you’re not sure about something computing related, stop by and talk to Martin.

Other Computing Resources

It’s a good idea to browse these websites at least once. Please pay special attention to the pages regarding Privacy and Security.
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