USF’s new TechSmart store quietly opened during the September Tech Fair, yet it is not fully functioning.
Located between the USF Computer Store and the USF Credit Union in the Marshall Student Center, TechSmart offers all USF students and departments access to a full-service print shop, an Information Technology (IT) help desk and an onsite computer technician.
Carl Smith, TechSmart and Computer Store Manager, said the new store won’t have a grand opening until spring to fix issues such as machines that are not in working order. In the meantime, students are still able to use the store’s services, which are designed to accommodate any request.
“Anybody can come,” Smith said. “We’ll take a look at it and figure out a way to make it happen.”
Student Government (SG) Senate President Khalid Hassouneh said TechSmart is a “full media innovation program” that originated when (SG) saw the demand for free printing services on campus was growing faster than its $300,000 budget of student-paid Activity and Service fees could allow.
SG began exploring options to alleviate congestion at campus printing stations and spoke to printing companies such as Ricoh and Xerox about expanding free printing services. However, Hassouneh said they quickly realized that to restructure the entire USF campus with new machines would be a multi-million dollar venture.
Instead, TechSmart was created to allow any student to use its binding, laminating, poster making, photo printing, faxing and scanning services, unlike Helping You Prepare Events (H.Y.P.E.), which provides free services for student organizations and departments.
Though TechSmart will charge for its services and a price list has not yet been set, Hassouneh said the store hopes to have lower costs than its competitors, such as Staples and Pro Copy. Students can also get their free prints – $2.50 worth every day – at the store.
“That was one of our big things,” Hassouneh said. “If we’re going to spend all this money, most of the capital is coming from student money, then it only makes sense we’re going to give it to (students) at discounted rates.”
SG provided $90,000 of Activity and Service fees as start-up money and partnered with IT, which provided personnel, to open the store.
Money generated by the new service, Hassouneh said, will eventually allow the University to provide students with more free prints.
Along with handling printing needs, Smith said the most experienced IT staff on shift will occupy a new IT help desk in the store and help students resolve software issues for free. A Dell and Mac-certified computer technician will also be available to fix hardware problems for a small fee.
However, TechSmart will not replace H.Y.P.E. or the existing IT help desk in the Library, he said. H.Y.P.E., which previously designed and printed materials for student organizations and University departments, will now only be used for design.
Jeff Jean Baptiste, a senior majoring in mass communications and graphic designer for the H.Y.P.E. office, said with over 500 student organizations, the H.Y.P.E. office also started to become too busy to handle both design and printing.
“The H.Y.P.E. office is very, very busy, and over the past year, it’s become even more known,” he said. “I think that’s why they split (design and printing) up, to distribute the work.”
Smith said TechSmart is currently working with Ricoh to add more printers and copiers for free printing across campus in departmental buildings and residence halls, as well as provide training to IT staff on the new high-efficiency machines.