student printing chart

The number of student and the pages they printed. Graphic by Maddie Malat.

If students won’t watch their printing habits, Bruce Vieweg will.

Bruce Vieweg, associate vice president and chief information officer of Concordia, worked with a team of students to track and analyze student’s individual print usage over the course of the fall 2014 semester.

Vieweg wanted to start this project because he felt printing levels were starting to get out of control. He said the college must look at both the environmental and economic sustainability of Concordia’s printing.

At the beginning of the 2014 fall semester, each student’s printing account was allowed 2,000 sheets of paper. Students could surpass that number, but the account subtracted 10 cents from that account’s $200 “allowance,” serving as a friendly reminder to watch printing habits. Bruce and his team found the average student used 332 sheets.

“I thought the average would be higher,” Vieweg said. “To me that’s good news that it’s less than I anticipated.”

According to the data, only four students printed above 2000 sheets. 13 students printed between 1500 and 1999, 81 between 1000 and 1499, 409 between 500 and 999, and 1913 printed less than 500 sheets.

The data showed that based on course registration and first listed major, nursing printed the most.

255,573 sheets were printed at the library, 284,951 in residence halls, 174,357 in computer labs, and 88,347 in the Maize. The total number of sheets printed by students was 803,228, which cost $40,182.45.

Concordia pays a vendor called Marco for printing based on the number of prints. Each print costs just over two cents per sheet. This covers the cost of the printing device, toner, paper and maintenance.

“If we pay for every sheet there’s a motivation to manage that the best we can,” Vieweg said.

Kim Haley worked on this project with Tyler Storm in their data mining class instructed by Dr. John Reber, who also helped analyze the data.

“Originally we wanted to make a model that predicted how many sheets of paper each person prints based on their major, gender, year in college, and status: full time, half time, etc.,” Haley said.

Although the model wasn’t the best at correctly predicting, they were able to find trends in the different variables.

Haley said the data showed females printed more than males, but this most likely due to the greater ratio of females to males.

Students also tended to print more each year of college, so seniors printed the most while freshman printed the least.

“I feel like we need to continue the study to bring in any conclusions,” Haley said. “Eventually it would be beneficial to use this in a way to limit our paper usage.”

Vieweg wants to continue this project. With a full academic year of data they will be able to look at printing habits in more detail; the longer they continue collecting and analyzing data, the more accurate the numbers will become.

“We ought to keep doing it. It doesn’t cost anything,” Vieweg said. “With the software already in place why not keep doing it? Let’s keep peeling the onion and looking at the data.”

Anna Erickson

Anna Erickson is a Multimedia Journalism major and an Art and Writing minor. She is from Alexandria, Minnesota and is a part of Concordia’s class of 2017. She is also a lifeguard, swimming lessons teacher and member of CEC. She loves photography, writing, and being on the lake.

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