Forsyth Tech keeps focus on student success with an AI-driven campus network
With the pandemic disrupting education for so many, community colleges like Forsyth Tech serve a critical role in helping students get their academic careers on track or pursue lucrative skilled trades.
Serving residents of the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, Forsyth Technical Community College relies on an AI-driven campus network from Juniper to help students reach their educational and career goals.
Reduction of student network-related trouble tickets on Day 1
Reduction in student network-related trouble tickets in the first six months after implementation
Students and 1600 employees
Degrees, certificates, diplomas, and programs offered
Wi-Fi: more than a convenience
“So much has changed since we first installed Wi-Fi,” says Chris Pearce, vice president and CIO at Forsyth Technical Community College. “Now every student has two or three devices and faculty infuse much more technology into the classroom.”
Students often had trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi network, especially if they didn’t own the latest mobile devices. Forsyth Tech’s IT team, already lean, was spending too much time troubleshooting wireless client connectivity issues, chipping away at resources for strategic work.
“As our bandwidth requirements continued to increase, the Wi-Fi became slower and user dissatisfaction grew,” says Pearce.
The pandemic further accelerated the college’s digital learning journey, placing greater demands on Forsyth Tech’s wired and wireless networks.
Simplicity was a prerequisite. AI was extra credit
“We needed a wireless solution that was easy to use,” says Pearce.
Juniper’s AI-driven network solution made the grade. The Juniper Mist Cloud applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate key tasks, proactively address networking issues before they impact service levels, and deliver detailed insight into user, device, and application behavior and traffic patterns.
“AI was not on my radar, but when I saw Mist AI, I said, ‘we have to have that,’” says Pearce.
With Juniper, the IT team can do more. “When we’re troubleshooting issues, Mist AI does the legwork,” he says. “It pinpoints the problem and we can hone in on it.”
Forsyth Tech deployed Juniper access points and switches in academic and administrative buildings as well as outdoors to support students. “We added Wi-Fi in high-profile parking lots and the campus quad to support students who didn’t have reliable Internet at home,” he says.
The college worked with Data Network Solutions, a prominent regional solution provider, on network design and engineering.
A network foundation for flexible learning
The Juniper network supports student success at Forsyth Tech, which has more than 22,000 students and nearly 1600 employees. The college offers more than 200 degrees, certificates, and diplomas across eight campuses and centers.
Mobile devices, even older ones, connect without hassles. Teachers can more easily balance synchronous and asynchronous learning modalities. Flexible network access makes it simpler for students to log into class or work on a project from a quiet place on campus.
“The Juniper Wi-Fi solution helps faculty better engage and interact with students, whether they are in the classroom or remote, because they can all connect to the same platform at the same time,” says Pearce.
Network support is streamlined. On the first day of operation, student network-related trouble tickets dropped by half and continued to drop for months after. “The time to resolution has gone from days to minutes or hours,” says Pearce.
Published January 2022