MetoGrads Survival Guide

Welcome to the Meteorology Department! The following is a compilation of things we wish we had known to get us through the first month. This is a guide to life in College Park and our Department, not a guide to academics. If you have questions about academics, go to the MetoGrads web page and browse through the FAQ's compiled by our graduate advisor, Jim Carton. The web page can be accessed via the Meteorology web page: or if you can't remember "~GCM" go to the web page and click on "Services and Links".

MetoGrads was formed to fill a need for student support. Throughout the year we will offer seminars, social events, and other helpful things such as this guide. If you like what we do, we invite you to participate by volunteering your skills and knowledge. The officers are listed on our website, but many others are active as well. Ask any of us how to get involved, we need your help and enthusiasm!


First Step: Registration and ID Cards

Most things you'll want to do depend on you having a campus ID card: it will act as a key card to get you in the building after hours, serve as a library card, and provide you student services. The outer and inner department doors lock automatically between 6 pm and 7 am, so you don't want to get caught when the door locks behind you on the way to the bathroom. But first you have to register. The following steps should be followed as soon as you have been provided with registration materials at the department orientation meeting and can log onto the web. Don't wait.

Note: if you are a foreign student, you should go to the International Education Service website: and look into obtaining a social security number (SSN), a driver's license, and bank account. You will need the SSN to register, and you may want a driver's license to serve as ID before you get your student ID so you don't have to carry around a passport all the time.

  1. Registration
  2. Getting your Student ID card.
    After registring for classes, take some identification and go to the Mitchell Building (across street from the Main Quad: see map), enter along the side steps. They will tell you what to do. Open M-F, 8:30-4:30.
  3. Program your card to act as a magnetic key card.
    Give Tammy Paolino your Social Security number with your card. It may take a day or so for the card to become active.

Other Business Concerns

Paying Your Tuition or other related Bills

Obtaining Health Insurance

Foreign students may not realize how expensive health insurance is in the United States. If you don't have health insurance to cover your unexpected medical bills, you may be faced with a major financial disaster. Fortunately the University of Maryland and the Department of Meteorology each offer affordable health insurance plans. You may want to compare insurance plans carefully: less expensive plans may ask you to pay more for each visit (copayment), pay a larger part of major expenses before the insurance pays the rest (deductable), or have a smaller maximum total payment (you'll want at least a quarter million dollars per year in case of a major hospital stay with surgery).

University Health Plan - this will cost approximately $1000/year, but will allow you to visit the doctors in the health center for no cost. You also receive discounts at the pharmacy for drugs. Go to the health center across from the student union.

State Employee Health Plan - If you are employed full time by the university (GRA) this will cost approximately $700/year. See Carol Pironto, room 2353.

Campus Computer (WAM) Accounts

Go to the Computer Help Center on the first floor of the meteorology building. Most grad students just use their departmental accounts, but getting a campus account has advantages as well: it will allow you to log onto nearly any computer on campus, as well as receive campus news. You will also have a free dial-up account to access the computer system from off campus.

Phones - local calls can be made from phones in the Meto Library or room 3416. Dial 9 to get out.

Who Does What?

Russ Dickerson : Department chair - sets the agenda, goals and atmosphere of the department. His job keeps him very busy, so generally you should bring your concerns to people lower down in the hierarchy first, and go to him once they send you to him. (3rd floor administration corner)

Jim Carton : Graduate Student Coordinator - questions about the academic graduate school program are his concern. He is also the best person to talk to if you wish to bring concerns to the faculty.

Tammy Paolino : Executive Admininstrative Assistant - handles the daily needs of the department. Talk to her about keys, broken copiers, etc. Though Tammy distributes paychecks she cannot answer business questions: go to Carol Pironto instead. (3rd floor administration corner)

Tammy Barksdale : Graduate Program Officer - anything which is grad student specific is her job. Registration paperwork, assistantship paperwork, or general questions about the administration side of the graduate school program. (3rd floor administration corner)

David Yanuk/James Crawford : Computer Resources Adminstrators - deals with hardware problems and software installation. Rather than talk to them directly, it's best to send a message to They are busy, so everyday questions should be investigated on the helper website ( or addressed to other grad students first. (second floor, room 2425)

Carol Pironto : Business Manager - payroll and insurance are her concerns. She will probably direct you to another office nearby. She also has the departmental projection equipment. (2nd floor CSS building: room 2353 )

Linda Carter : ESSIC Business Manager - will arrange all business concerns between ESSIC and meteorology. (ESSIC administration office: CSS 2207)

Graduate Student Committee Members

Zahra Chaudry : President - the chief liason between the department and the graduate students, and the person to talk to if you have ideas to improve life as a graduate student. (CSS 4337)

Megan Linkin : Student Office Coordinator - arranges graduate student offices. If there are problems with your office or a need to change offices, go through her. Go to Tammy Paolino for keys. (CSS 2330)

Haifeng Qiang: Student Seminar Coordinator organizes graduate student seminars. (CSS 2110)

Wallace Hogsett: Treasurer/Resource Coordinator manages finances for the graduate student committee. (CSS 4339)

Kris Karnauskas: Special Events Coordinator organizes events that are not 'business as usual', such as tours of government labs. (CSS 2223)

Brian Vant-Hull : Computer Resources – maintains web page, brings student computer concerns to faculty. (CSS 2111).

Lisa Murphy : University Graduate Student Government Liason maintains communication between the University grad student government and our own departmental organization. (CSS 2330)



To park on campus during normal business hours you'll have to get a parking permit. A full-year parking permit for commuter students is $183. If you would like a permit only for the fall semester, it is $110. If you are on a GRA you can have this parking fee deducted from your bi-weekly paycheck. Between 8:15-4 pm you may go to the parking office located in the parking garage across from the corner of the department (see map). Or fill out a form online:

The university offers a carpool service called SMART PARK that will reduce the cost of a parking permit. An online database application helps students find other students who live near them and are interested in carpooling. For more information go to

If you don't want to pay for parking, you may park in the departmental lot after 6 pm, but not in the row against the building which is reserved for faculty. Or you may consider taking the shuttle: see the next item.

Free University Shuttle Service

The university offers an extensive shuttle system which can take you most of the places you want to go with reasonable frequency during the academic year. You will need your student ID to board, but if you haven't registered yet your letter of acceptance to the meteorology department will serve as temporary ID.

All shuttle routes pick up outside the student union (see map). Schedules and route maps are displayed at this location, and you may go to the commuter lounge in the student union to pick up your own maps and schedules. Or go to to get all information.

You do not need an ID to ride the shuttles to the Metro stations. These shuttles run every 10 to 20 minutes, and also have later hours than the other shuttle routes.

DC Metro

Trying to drive in downtown DC can be a humiliating experience for newcomers. Fortunately DC is blessed with one of the best public transportation systems in the world, which can take you nearly anyplace you care to go in the sight-seeing, dining, and shopping areas of town. Take a shuttle bus to the College Park or Silver Spring metro station. Maps are displayed prominently at each station, but you might consider picking up a map of the system in the commuter lounge in the student union.

You can use the Metro to get within walking distance of the NOAA offices in Silver Spring or Branch Avenue.

MetroBus - stop uphill of the Student Union and in front of the math building. The fare is $1.25, and if you get a transfer ticket upon boarding your return trip (or any transfers within the bus system) is free! Free on official smog days as well! Information:

Computer Tips

Due to recent upgrades, some of this information will be out of date, but we are still trying to understand the new system. We will update this once we wrap our heads around it.

We won't even try to tell you even a fraction of what you need to know, but this is what we wish we had known from the start. The easiest way to do things are listed below. Once you have learned the system well you may discover better ways.

General Layout - This is a UNIX based department, and eventually you will have to pick up a book and learn the language. Until then you can get along using the Konqueror operating system which is designed to look very much like windows for file manipulation: but instead of a "Start" menu there is a "K" menu at the lower left corner. UNIX can be used for checking email and using the web with no further knowledge. Windows computers are located in Lab 1, room 3408. All files are networked, so you can reach your account from any terminal.

Getting Help - a selection of technical support files can be found at the Helper web page: They are not guaranteed to be 100% up to date, but they are specific to our system. You may also ask for help directly via email: or just put "helper" as the destination in your Pine email (see below).

MetoGrads will also plans to offer introductory seminars in UNIX, FORTRAN, MATLAB, IDL, HTML and GRADS at the beginning of each academic semester.

Remote Access - The University offers free dial-up service to its students. To obtain a university or "WAM" account, visit the Office of Information Technology (OIT) conveniently located on the first floor of CSSB. Dial-up numbers can be obtained from the OIT help desk or from the website Many of the university system computers may be accessed via telnet, but for security reasons this is not advisable. You should download Secure Shell as described below.

The meteorology department computers can only be accessed remotely using secure shell. Download this from the website Click on Log-In/Password from the Getting Started menu, and then click on 'logging in remotely'. After you're on the internet via the university dial-up connection, or a connection by another provider, you can launch secure shell. To get into your meteorology account, type one of the available computer names listed below into the 'host name' box.

Available Computers – the following computers are available for all students and faculty to access remotely: halo01-halo05, cirrus01, nimbus 05, nimbus09, nimbus 12-nimbus16. The computer addresses would be, for example, Other similar named computers belong to specific programs and should not be accessed without permission. For file transfers using secure shell (not just terminal access) the only computer that allows remote access is

Email Using Pine - this is the default departmental email system. In any UNIX system click on the terminal icon to get into command mode. Type "ssh". The system is pretty self-explanatory from there: all commands are listed at the bottom of the page. Everyone in the department has the address, but you need only type the username in the destination line; the rest will be filled in automatically. To save space you may want to delete sent mail periodically, especially if you have been sending attachments.

Mailing to All Students or All Faculty - type "Students" or "metofac" in the destination line. Avoid over-using this capability.

Sending Attachments in Pine - type in the name of the file in the attachment line. If this doesn't work you may use the "to files" command (^T) and Select (S) the file.

Accessing UNIX from Windows - in the instructional lab, you can use the START menu to find the secure shell client in the Programs list. Hit "Enter" to connect, use type one of the available computers listed above as the host name (i.e. ''), and then your UNIX user name.

Transferring Files Within the Department - If you go up in the file structure from either UNIX or Windows, you will find you can enter other member's directories. If the files are not file protected you can just drag and drop directly into your own directory. If they are protected you'll have to use UNIX to change the permissions.

Transferring Between Windows and UNIX - in Windows you can access your UNIX directory: go to "My Computer" then "username on SAMBAPAC". Word documents will have a ".doc" extension added automatically, powerpoint a ".ppt" extension added.

Printing UNIX Documents - This is easiest done from the instructional lab, where you can use the Text Editor from the "K" menu to open and print the file. Make sure the "Inst. Lab" printer is selected. Using the "lp" or "lpr" command often requires extra commands to make it work correctly.

In computer lab I (3408) you'll have to issue the following at the UNIX Prompt:
	% lpr -Pmp1 filename		for postscript files
	% enscript -Pmp1 filename	for text files.
You may also use the color printer -Pcolor, but the number of copies per student are limited.

Department Web Page - each person in the department is listed on the Meto web page with Basic Contact Information (office, phone, email, advisor) and a Bio Page, which can be anything you want.

Updating Contact Information - the information will be posted for you shortly after you have arrived and all details have been processed. But if you need to change it, send an email to

Bio Page - the cleanest way to create a web page is to write it directly in HTML, which is easy to learn. But a very good editor is built into the Windows platform:

  1. From Windows, open the 'www' folder in your UNIX directory (see above).
  2. Double click on the 'Index' icon.
  3. Make your web page: the tools are pretty self-explanatory.

That's it! When you save it, your web page will be up. Another option is to write your page in MS Word, save it in 'web page' format, and drop it into the www directory. This often does not have satisfactory results. Or write pure HTML and save it in text format.

Using the Scanner - The departmental scanner is in computer lab 1 (3416) and has its own dedicated computer, so you may want to bring a disk to transfer your work onto. Open the Start Menu, go to Programs, and choose HP Deskscan II. The program will take a little figuring out, but it's not difficult.


Your campus ID will serve as a library card and even as a copy machine card. There are machines in each library that will let you add money to your card for use in making copies. Grad students can check books out for 6 months, but the late fees are expensive.

Meteorology Library - Third floor, a comfortable place to study, no need for an ID. Your office key will get you in. The journal collection may not be complete since it relies on donations, so current issues only appear after the donor has finished with them. But this is a convenient first stop. Class notes and tests from previous years are also available. Remember to leave the door closed and locked when you leave!

Engineering Library - located in the Math/Physics/Chem/Engineering complex, upstairs from the café. This is the best source for journals, located on the third floor.

McKeldin Library - occasionally you will find books here that are not available in the engineering library. Many common journals are in microfiche.

Hornbake Library - This has media only: newspapers, videos, etc. Largely useless for research, but perhaps good for entertainment.

Online Resources

Library Catalog - www.lib.umd.eduUse this before you walk all the way there and find out they don't have the book.

Journals You can access American Meteorological Society journals through the main library's online journal access. Under the library webpage (see above), go to "research port", then "Ejournals". You may want to find the article at the AMS website first: go to the Department's website ( and click on the "services and links" button. Other useful journals are also found at the university's research port. If your advisor has a subscription to the American Geophysical Union you may ask about access to those journals as well.

Entertainment on Campus

Online Campus Calendar - You'll be surprised how much goes on each day, most of it listed in this woefully underused utility. Go to and click on the calendar at the top of the page. You'll kick yourself if you don't check this at least once a week.

FYI Digest - This is a list of events on campus sent directly to your email account every few days. To subscribe, send an email with the subject "subscribe fyi yourname" to For more information go to fast food, bookstore, coffee shop, Mailboxes Etc., ticket office, meeting rooms, student food co-op; all in one confusing building. A good place to waste half an hour or so. Check out the TerpZone located on the basement level, with a recently opened poolhall and bowling alley.

Things to check out which most people are oblivious to:

Campus Recreation Center (CRC) - Exercise machines, a pool, racquet ball, ping pong, and more all available with your student ID. Go downstairs to check out paddles and balls. For a dollar or two you can get towels to use with the showers. This is one of the best facilities in the country within a five minute walk behind the department (see map). Group fitness classes, including Cardio Kickboxing, Muscle Works, Spinning, Aquatic Aerobics and others, are all offered to students for $1/class or $25/semester. To see a full schedule, go to

Outdoor Recreation Center - Located at the lower corner of the CRC, one of the greatest discoveries on campus. Hikes, trail rides, kayak trips, etc. are organized regularly. You may also rent camping equipment, boats and bikes or use the tools in the bike shop to perform maintenance (they don't do it for you: bring your own parts as well). The climbing walls around back are marvelous, with one night a week open to train new climbers.

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center - Located on Stadium drive about a 10 minute walk from the department. You can get free tickets to an outstanding concert series in one of the best facilities in the country (does this sound familiar?). Go to the ticket office early in the semester with your student ID. Pick up a concert schedule and get free tickets (one per student per concert)before they are all given away. You can also get 2 $5 tickets to any event with your ID (the general public pays $20-$35). Check the bimonthly schedule and Online Campus Calendar frequently for concerts which were not scheduled early enough to get on the annual calendar.

Athletic Events - Check the calendar and buy tickets early at the ticket office (in the student union), as they tend to sell out. For some sports (football and basketball in particular) a designated number of tickets are distributed for students on a lottery system, with graduate students guaranteed 10% of these tickets. Go to to register for the ticket lottery. You will need the number on the back of your student ID to register.

Hornbake Library - watch videos or listen to music for free in your own private cubicle.

Graduate Student Government (GSG) sponsored events - this is the governing body and voice of all graduate students at the University of Maryland. Anyone can attend the monthly meetings (free pizza and soda!). They allocate funds for different student groups across campus (including MetoGrads). They also plan outings, once a month, to get graduate students together and to see the sights of the DC area, and sponsor a "Grad Pub" on Fridays throughout the academic year. Keep your eyes open for e-mail announcements from this group. Or check out Lisa Murphy is MetoGrads GSG liason.

Food on Campus

These are listed in order of distance from the department. Anything associated with the dorms is not open during the summer.

Snak'n'Shop - a convenience store in the dorms directly behind the department. They have pre-made sandwiches, drinks and snacks.

The Diner - Undergraduate cafeteria with a variety of food. From behind the department walk uphill to the set of dorms where the street turns right. Prices for main dishes aren't always cheap, but side dishes are reasonable. They have a very nice salad bar; also pizza, sandwiches, and hot foods.

Student Union Food Hall - Ground floor (from front), 2nd floor (from our side): Sbarro's Italian, MacDonalds, Taco Bell, Panda Express, Chick Fillet, Starbucksi, Steak Escape, Boar's Head Deli, soft pretzels and smoothies.

Student Union Food Coop - ground floor on the side facing our department: Sandwich bar with a wide selection of interesting ingredients, very cheap. They also have hot food for vegetarians, fresh fruit, and a selection of vegetarian prepared food in the refrigerated section.

Adele's - Moderately priced restaurant in the third floor above the Student Union Co-op. A nice escape from student fare, $10-$20.

Engineering Café - tucked away at the intersection of the engineering and math buildings. Sandwiches, taco bell; coffee and pastries down the hall. During the summer they close immediately after lunch, by 1 pm.

Sneakers - located in the campus recreation center. Sandwiches and smoothies.

Undergraduate Buffet - On the other side of the McKeldin Library Quadrangle. Pricey, but worth it if you're hungry because it's all you can eat.

Visitor's Center - Sandwiches and burgers on selected days. Ice cream made from cows you can visit right here on campus!

Rossborough Inn - Upscale grill; you may feel a little out of place in shorts. They also have a very upscale buffet which will make you feel very out of place in sneakers, but good for impressing people. Across from the visitors center.

Mulligan's Grill - Golf course clubhouse that specializes in classic Maryland cooking at lunch and dinner. Located across University Blvd by the golf course. Happy hour specials and live jazz on selected nights.

Useful Maps

Meteorology Building map - The building can be confusing for a few weeks. This should help. Note the unusual room numbering system in the larger building

Campus map - This map is meant to give you a general idea of where things are. It is definitely not to scale, and only the buildings and roads of interest to us are shown. You may want to use this in conjunction with a complete campus map which you can obtain from the student union. Buildings are coded as follows:

Off Campus Shopping Map - Only the main crossroads near campus are listed, with important stores and shuttle routes. This is not a comprehensive listing of everything available (we need to leave some fun of discovery for you!) but we do list essential stores for food, clothing, house-wares, and furniture to get you started in the first month. All locations shown can be reached by foot or via the UMD shuttle service. Since most extraneous details are left out, you may need to use this shopping map in conjunction with a real map, though if you stay on the shuttle and keep your eyes open you will eventually find everything here.