Yale pilots printing kiosks

Though WEPA allows students
to print from their personal
devices, most students interviewed
said they had never tried
printing from a WEPA kiosk.
Though WEPA allows students to print from their personal devices, most students interviewed said they had never tried printing from a WEPA kiosk. Photo by Earl Lee.

New cloud-based printing kiosks have appeared in several residential colleges over the past few weeks.

Yale is currently piloting a new printing service called WEPA, which stands for “Wireless Everywhere. Print Anywhere,” that could replace the current UniPrint system. Made by an Alabama-based company that aims to capture the college printing market, the kiosks have recently been installed in computer clusters in Branford, Timothy Dwight and Saybrook. Though WEPA allows students to print from multiple devices at a cheaper price than the current UniPrint service, most students interviewed said they have yet to try the new kiosks.

“The spring 2013 ITS student survey revealed that printing was an area of dissatisfaction,” Derek Zhao, assistant manager of the Student Technology Collaborative, said in Tuesday e-mail. “As such we are piloting the WEPA print kiosks at selected locations to try and improve print services and satisfaction at Yale.”

Once students install the WEPA “print to cloud” driver on their devices, they can print at any WEPA kiosk from their computers, smartphones or USB devices, John Copeland, the General Manager of WEPA, told the News. WEPA also offers color printing, he said.

Though students pay per page for printing, Copeland said WEPA does not charge the universities it works with.

“We bring the technology and the equipment to the campus without any economic cost to the institution — we don’t make them sign a contract,” Copeland said. This business model makes WEPA a more cost-effective and appealing resource, he said.

Despite WEPA’s flexibility and lower costs, the new printing kiosks have yet to command the attention of students, many of whom said they are perplexed by the new user interface and have so far continued to print using UniPrint or their own printers.

Johnathan Terry ’17 said he has not tried using the kiosks yet because he has his own printer, though he added that the combination of lower fees and color printing — a feature unavailable on most of Yale’s current printers — makes the kiosks a good addition to campus.

XinXin Xu ’16 said she tried to use one of the WEPA kiosks but did not end up using the new system.

“I don’t know how to use them,” she said. “I tried swiping my ID but that’s apparently not how it works.”

Xu said the initial complexity of the kiosks may put off many potential users.

To promote the use of the new system, Zhao said the STC is actively working to simplify the use of these printers and make students more aware of their existence.

“We work with residential colleges’ Master’s Offices to help us announce and distribute information about the new WEPA printers,” he said.

He added that an outreach campaign involving Gil Phish, which is the mascot for STC and Yale ITS, is in the works. Campus-wide announcements have yet to take place, as not every residential college has a WEPA kiosk yet, he said.

Copeland said he remains optimistic for the future of WEPA printers on the Yale campus.

“Once it’s on the campus, the degree of its integration as a campus utility depends on a number of things, including whether or not it will be available to only undergraduates,” he said.

The next step in the process will be expanding the system to graduate students and faculty, he added. The long-term expectation, Copeland added, is that WEPA kiosks will become available at non-traditional locations, allowing students to use the cloud to print everywhere.

WEPA was founded in 2008.

Comments