1. About
  2. Features
  3. Explore

I'm a new graduate student in a computational lab, and the workstations provided by the lab I'm in right now are...slightly subpar. Long story short, a lot of it is nearing a decade old, and there doesn't seem to be a push to replace it with new hardware anytime soon. Since our lab tends to work with pretty demanding programs, this creates a major issue.

Over at Workplace SE, the standard advice seems to be to point out the economics of the situation (devs = expensive, time lost = money lost), but I'm not convinced that the same reasoning holds in academia. In addition, from talking to labmates and various administrative staff, it seems that the lab won't have the funding to replace all (or even most) of the machines anytime soon.

Which brings me to a potential solution: I have a decently powerful computer sitting at home. Would it be a good idea for me to spend some of my own money to upgrade it and bring it in to the lab? My advisor is okay with this plan, but I don't know if there's other things I should worry about (e.g. unclear line between personal/lab equipment, or people coming to rely on the machine).

This is somewhat related to this question, but it seemed to be asking specifically about money and a grant application, while I'm more concerned about potential consequences of bringing personal property to the lab and using it for an extended period of time.

1 Answer 1

At least here in Germany there is this thing that (at least in public institutions) electrically powered machines (even phone chargers) need to be checked for safety by a specified person and then labelled that they are safe to use. This is because of liability. What happens when your PC causes a fire that burns down the building (obviously the worst case)? If the lab didn't officially approve, you might be in trouble.

In case this is handled differently in your workplace and you get the OK from your boss, you'll be fine I think. But as the first commenter said, you should not be forced to bring your own hardware. Keep bringing up the topic. Tell them how much time you're wasting with old hardware and maybe they'll budge.