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Faculty and Staff

George Martell: A Journey of Service, Safety and Seamless IT

George Martell Spotlight Article

In the world of IT and safety, George Martell is a seasoned professional who brings a unique blend of perspective and experience to his role as the IT Manager and Safety Officer at NC State’s Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) department. Martell’s journey, both before and during his time at NC State, reveals a story of dedication, resilience, and a commitment to creating a seamless and secure environment for the university’s research community.

Before joining NC State, Martell spent a decade as a Nuclear Electronics Technician for the Navy, operating and maintaining submarine nuclear reactors. His experience extended to training personnel in various nuclear-related fields including nuclear physics, radiological chemistry, materials science, and electronics theory. Reflecting on the journey that led him to North Carolina, Martell shared, “One of my friends from the Navy was from Western North Carolina. During our training in South Carolina, we would periodically visit his family and I fell in love with the area.” For years afterwards, Martell was determined to find a way back to North Carolina. “Having traveled the world and the US, this is the place I want to settle down and call home,” he emphasized. 

In 2016, the opportunity to move to North Carolina presented itself, marking the beginning of Martell’s adventure with MSE in early 2017. His initial focus involved enhancing reliability, automating functions, and implementing preemptive measures to detect and resolve issues before anyone noticed. “IT infrastructure is one of those things that no one thinks about until there is a problem,” Martell noted. “It’s a good day when everything appears seamless and no one needs the IT guy.” The sentiment of going unnoticed in his role is one Martell cherishes, a testament to a job well done. He draws a parallel between IT and safety, envisioning a workplace where safety protocols are second nature. “When everyone just intuitively puts on their PPE, and no one needs the safety guy, that’s a culture that’s been built,” he added.

Among the numerous projects Martell led, one stands out—a project so subtle that its success lies in its ability to go unnoticed. “NC State is part of the earliest iterations of the internet,” Martell explained. In the early days, internet and network security were not a large concern. “When I first started, our computers, printers, and anything else attached to the network were completely public and continually being attacked,” he recalled. His task was to separate the departmental network from the broader internet while still ensuring seamless resource access by faculty, staff, and students. “While it’s impossible to quantify all the things that didn’t happen, after seeing other universities shut down and their research data stolen or deleted, I strongly believe that this project has prevented significant problems and embarrassment to our department and the broader university,” Martell affirmed.

As Martell approaches retirement from MSE, he reflects on the institution’s paradoxical focus, that of preparing individuals to leave. “We take pride in training our students so that they can move on to their next phase of life, and we build up our staff, faculty, and especially our postdocs so that they can move on to the next level in their careers,” he mused. Now, Martell finds himself moving forward. His legacy at NC State transcends technological advancements; it encompasses the people he supported, empowered, and kept safe throughout his tenure. “Stay safe and look out for each other. One team, one fight,” he concludes. And, of course, “Go Wolfpack!”—a fitting tribute to the hidden but invaluable service Martell played in ensuring the seamless functioning and safety of the MSE department.

This post was originally published in Department of Materials Science and Engineering.