New print system brings function and frustration

A new printing system, Pharos, was implemented at the beginning of this semester. Pharos replaces GT Print, which was a homegrown system that had become outdated. The new printing system offers more functions, including double-sided printing, stapling and hole punching. It also offers opportunities for expansion and improvement.

“GT Print had reached the limit of its capabilities. We needed a more flexible system to accommodate rising student needs,” said Lisa Spence, director of IT Services in OIT.

Under Pharos, the number of VPUs allotted to each student per week increased from 50 to 55. Printing a black and white page costs one VPU and printing a color page costs five VPUs.

GT Print allowed the rollover of VPUs, meaning that one could have a maximum of 100 pages at the end of every two weeks. Pharos does not offer this function, and students now have to swipe their Buzzcards at the printing station.

“I don’t like the new system for a couple of reasons. It’s really annoying putting in your username and password every time and swiping your Buzzcard. You don’t get as many pages, which causes a lot of problems,” said Alex Reimers, fourth-year CS major.

“Right now, the login allows students to just see their print jobs while the Buzzcard initiates the quota. However, swiping the Buzzcard also allows the student to print beyond the quota,” Spence said.

In cases where the student urgently needs to print but has no more VPUs left, Pharos allows the cost of any extra pages to be deducted from the student’s Buzzcard. Under GT Print, this was not an option.

“In previous years, we heard a lot from students at the end of each semester, when they ran out of their quotas for big projects and couldn’t print from the library or student center,” Spence said. “With Pharos, this will no longer be a problem.”

OIT is currently working on a mobile printing system, which would allow students to print from their laptops anywhere on campus. Also, Pharos is being expanded beyond the library and student center to the colleges and departments. The College of Architecture and the School of Civil Engineering have already agreed to adopt the new system.

For students who do not need their printouts urgently, Central Printing is still available free of charge. Printing to Central Printing is unlimited, provided that the materials are of an academic nature. The print jobs are released in the Printing and Copying Services Building and transported to the library three times a day.

“Of course, Central Printing should not be used for mass copying or printing material that is unrelated to coursework,” said Scott Perkins, manager of Printing and Copying Services. “All students pay the Tech fee, so we try to be as cost-effective as possible.”

OIT has recently come under fire for not consulting SGA and the student body before making the transition from GT Print to Pharos. However, this miscommunication was only the result of an oversight, and the student government is now fully committed to partnering with OIT and bringing student input into future developments.

“We look forward to working with OIT and we’ll make sure that students have a voice in any future decisions,” said Robert McEntyre, Vice President of Campus Affairs.