Upgrading Campus Technology: Q&A with Westchester Community College

3 min

Westchester Community College, a State University of New York (SUNY), offers its students associate degrees in 36 subject areas ranging from art to business to health. With over 24,000 full-, part-time and continuing education students served each semester, the college needed to deploy reliable, high-quality technology solutions to meet students’ diverse needs and withstand many hours of use.

After demoing and testing Panasonic’s projectors, and having a “shoot out” with other competing solutions, Westchester Community College will deploy 125 Panasonic PT-RZ570 1-Chip DLP™ Fixed Installation Laser Projectors across its campus. To learn more about why the college chose Panasonic, our team sat down with Jerry Maselli, director of media services at Westchester Community College.

Panasonic: To kick off our discussion, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your role?

Jerry Maselli: I’ve been at Westchester Community College for 20 years providing technical support for classroom technology and special events. As Director of Media Services, I work with the school’s IT department to deploy interactive technology in classrooms and computer labs, which is why I’ve worked on the project with Panasonic so closely.

What inspired this project in the first place?

We had some legacy systems, but it was time for a campus upgrade. After looking at several products, we connected with Panasonic because we wanted an all-in-one solution in classrooms. Prior to our Panasonic deployment, we had multiple systems in a single room. The goal of our partnership with Panasonic is to streamline and unify our technology while improving our cost-savings.

What is the history of technology offerings at the college and how satisfied were you with it?

Before partnering with Panasonic, we were replacing projector bulbs every year and a half, which certainly adds up. The fact that the PT-RZ570s are lamp-less has significantly cut down on costs for us since we no longer need to purchase bulbs and they can run for up to 20,000 hours maintenance-free. These laser projectors are also helping our campus go green since we no longer need to dispose mercury lamps. Plus, they have a longer lifespan than our previous projectors, reducing our overall waste.

Can you explain which features drew Westchester Community College to the PT-RZ570?

Before landing on the PT-RZ570 model, we demoed several other Panasonic solutions, but found that the PT-RZ570 had the capabilities we wanted.

We needed something with a high resolution – better than 1024x768 – and very bright (> 5000 lumens) for the various projects our students would use it for. So we decided the projectors should support the Microsoft Surface Studios, which is particularly good for arts and sciences.

The college also wanted to create an interactive, seamless learning environment. We had implemented Microsoft Surface Studios as our presenter PCs so students and teachers could use the touchscreen devices during lessons and have superior graphics on-screen. The projectors would need to seamlessly integrate with these devices and ensure that the image quality did not degrade when moving from the computer screen to the projected image.

Because the PT-RZ570s provide up to 4K resolution, support the Microsoft Surface Studios and are lamp-less, which saves us money in terms of maintenance costs, they became the clear front-runner.

Tell us more about the installation.

We started deploying Panasonic’s projectors in September 2018. So far, 86 Projectors have been installed with more installations in the near future.

How do these products impact campus life? How do they impact teaching and learning?

In collaboration with our academic technology committee who have supported this project, we have heard that it has already helped the faculty focus on the content they’re teaching rather than the tech they’re using. Additionally, students are benefiting because they can see everything projected very clearly. As I mentioned earlier, this is especially important in sciences and arts where images are crucial.

Do you use Panasonic products anywhere else on campus?

We use Panasonic PTZ cameras throughout the college for video conferencing and streaming. We’ve had no challenges with these devices either. In the future, they will be integrated with Panasonic projectors.

How would you characterize your institution’s relationship with Panasonic?

Panasonic is very supportive, and has been a true partner to us. I think there’s been great communication from the team – almost instantaneous responses – and the turnaround time is always within the same day. The customer service is exceptional, and so are the products: We’ve had some other Panasonic projectors prior to this deployment and we’ve never had any issues with them, even our lamped projectors.

How satisfied are you with your Panasonic products and why?

Very satisfied; we haven’t had any challenges. We also have a five-year warranty, so if a challenge should arise, we would get a replacement or repair almost instantly. That is a big “plus” especially since procurement can slow things down.

Looking ahead, we hope to grow our partnership with Panasonic as we continue to upgrade the technology around campus.