Athena Working Group


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I was the UA's student representative on MIT's committee to change Athena "clusters" and student printing during Spring 2010 (freshman year). I worked with UA CSL on preparing a report.


UA Report

UA Presentation

Committee Report



During Spring Break 2010, the Pharos Hold-and-Release system was piloted on Baker's "Bricks" printer. Pharos was rolled out to the entire campus at the start of the Fall 2011 semester. Initial indications show that printing is down 50% versus previous years. Previously the printers were old and slow. This meant that the printers were often backed up. It was hard to check the status of a printer (often it involved the command line), so people often printed to a printer anyway. It was even harder to cancel a print job, so the printers became more and more backed up with old jobs. I once saw a printer backed up 30 minutes to an hour. By the time a job printed, everyone had long abandoned it, but had forgotten to cancel the job. This was a giant waste of paper AND a bad service to students.

Several students have told me the prefer the new system. Despite having to stand next the to the printer when your job prints (only really an issue if you are printing a book), the students I talked to believe the system lets them print their jobs in less net time, because the printers are far more reliable.

I'm very happy that the working group was able to come up with a solution that reduces costs for MIT while increasing student satisfaction. I don't think that happens often, but I'm glad we were able to make it happen. In addition, I don't think it's every day that students voluntary agree to a quota.

As of January 2012, there appears to be no progress made on the Athena space issue. However, the library has added more group study rooms.

As of January 2012, MIT has announced that they will be moving to a soft quota. This means that you will get an email when you go over the "quota", but students will still be able to print.