The Salvatori Computer Science Center, a study spot for engineering students, now provides newer computer technology and improved study spaces for students after the university and Information Technology Services upgraded the computer lab this summer.
The center was renovated as part of a larger initiative funded by the Office of the Provost to improve existing resources on campus and increase USC’s capacity for more advanced forms of technology.
The renovation focused on several key themes — mobility, collaboration and better interaction — to improve the lab. The center is now equipped with spaces for students to use their own laptops and provides group study rooms, modeled after the spaces in Leavey Library.
A new laptop rental program offers 90 computers for students to check out for four-hour periods, which can be renewed if more time is needed. For student convenience, the laptops may be taken anywhere on campus, said Joseph Cevetello, director of ITS Learning Environments.
“The initiative really involved taking a look at all the learning centers on campus with an eye toward renovating them and bringing them [more closely] to what students need,” Cevetello said.
He explained that the space had been completely transformed to fit growing demands from both students and the university for a more high-tech experience throughout campus.
In addition, ITS installed collaborative software, including TeamSpot, a cross-platform program that enables wireless sharing of screens between computers, to encourage a more interactive environment and to build upon peer learning opportunities.
In response to student feedback about the difficulties of printing from laptops, the space now has wireless printing capabilities. Costs were reduced as well, Cevetello said; it is now the cheapest place to print on campus and charges 10 cents per page for black and white printing, compared to 12 cents per page at Leavey Library.
“It was about recognizing that [some of] our learning spaces had not been updated in more than 20 years,” Cevetello added.
Many engineers have had positive reactions to the changes, acknowledging that the center seems more aesthetically pleasing, and that the improved software is helpful, most notably the addition of Macs that run Windows programs.
“It looks really nice; the new computers are much better,” said Edward Gonzales, a graduate student studying electrical engineering.
Despite student satisfaction and support from USC’s Undergraduate Student Government, some students said glitches will need to be worked out to prevent overcrowding.
“I’m less likely to rent a laptop than I am to just get a desk computer,” said Gonzales, who, like many engineering students, prefers large screens rather than small screens on laptops when working with graphics.
The lab hours have not changed; it is open 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday, midnight to 11 p.m. on Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 7:30 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.
“As an engineer, you pretty much live 24 hours in SAL,” said Elizabeth Windler, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. Fortunately for engineers, Cevetello said there are plans to expand the hours so that the lab would be open 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
“It was very forward thinking,” said Yaniv Tal, a senior majoring in electrical engineering. “The hours thing is huge … as engineers, we have to work late.”