Expanded USU Computer Lab Benefits Students

Students now have expanded access to computers and printers thanks to a popular service provided by the University Student Union Computer Lab.

Students can already use printers in the Oviatt Library by purchasing a $5 debit card and paying 10 cents per page.  Starting this semester, the USU Computer Lab has significantly expanded the number of computers and offers students the ability to print up to 20 pages per day at no additional charge.

The new lab—located in the USU just west of the Student Recreation Center—was unveiled in August and replaces the one previously located in the Sol Center.

The new lab sports 130 computers and seven printing stations — a significant upgrade from the previous 69 computers and three printing stations. The USU Computer Lab reserves 18 computer for students to use for less than 10 minutes. Most of the computers can be used for up to two hours per day, but the “quick-use” computers allow students to quickly print out assignments.

The lab is designed to be accessible to all students. Four of the computers are ADA-compliant and utilize software including ZoomText, Kurzweil 3000, Inspiration and JAWS 13 to serve students with specialized learning needs. Plans are underway to make all the workstations ADA compliant. All are already completely adjustable.

Shakuntala Smith, coordinator of the University Student Union Computer Labs, says the USU surveyed students for three days to find out what services they wanted. The results directly influenced the development of the new computer lab.

The lab is open:

  • Monday – Thursday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday – Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sixteen trained support staff are on hand to answer questions about the computers, software or lab services.

“The lab techs are enthusiastic and eager to help,” Smith says. “They know what students need because they are students themselves.”

Students can even access software that they may not own, including Microsoft Office and Adobe Suite, through the Virtual Software Library, CSUN’s cloud-hosted software funded by the Campus Quality Fee.

Students may also sign up for Friday afternoon “Tech Series” classes to learn software programs, potentially winning free giveaways such as s USB flash drives as a “thank you” for attending.

“We realized that students’ skillsets are all over the place,”  Smith explained. “Based on the questions we were asked daily, we decided to launch a tech series to teach students how to use these programs more efficiently.”

Despite its benefits to students, Smith says the lab is one of the “best-kept secrets” of the CSUN campus.

Natalie Ferber, an English major on exchange from Germany, learned about the lab during a visit to the International and Exchange Student Center.

“It’s nice knowing I have enough time to print before class every day, and not having to pay for it is even better,” Ferber says. “I didn’t buy a printer yet, and I don’t think I’ll need to as long as I’m on exchange here since I can just use the lab.”

Smith says more is in store for the USU Computer Lab. For example, a new service called PrinterOn, now being tested, may allow students to print from another building or their mobile devices. She expects it will be ready next semester.

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