Winston-Salem U meets Gen-Z digital expectations with AI-driven Wi-Fi
Winston-Salem State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in North Carolina, offers a meaningful educational experience and a path to opportunity. The university is well-known for its healthcare programs and ranks among the top HBCUs for social mobility and value.
An AI-driven wireless network from Juniper allows the university to deliver elevated digital experiences to students as they develop the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that will allow them to change the world for the better.
buildings on 117-acre campus
reduction in wireless-related trouble tickets since Juniper deployment
IT can support Wi-Fi network users from anywhere via the cloud
Great Wi-Fi is essential for student success
“Students today are digital-first,” says Joshua McClure, network administrator at Winston-Salem State University. “Students’ technology expectations have gone way up since returning to campus.”
The university was well-prepared for post-pandemic expectations, and it had already begun a network refresh to address Wi-Fi connectivity in its eight residence halls when COVID struck.
One dorm was particularly troublesome, with concrete walls soaking up the RF signal. The Wi-Fi was down more than it was up, making it difficult for students who remained on campus during lockdown to learn.
An AI skeptic is convinced
McClure was initially wary of industry marketing claims about AI-driven, cloud-managed networking, noting that Mist AI™ real-time intelligence, automation, and analytics from Juniper sounded “too good to be true.”
But as the university deployed Juniper Access Points, Mist AI, and Juniper Mist Cloud services, the IT team could resolve Wi-Fi problems faster and deliver a user experience that was more predictable, reliable, and measurable.
With the value proven, McClure concluded: “The Mist dashboard is not eye-candy.”
With AI-driven insights and operations, McClure can support students’ mobile devices from anywhere.
“Juniper has changed my workflow, which has created a direct quality-of-life improvement,” he says. “I never thought I could work in a hybrid scenario, especially when supporting wireless, but Mist AI has made it possible.”
Now, the wireless is rarely the cause of trouble tickets. When a problem does arise, McClure video chats with students to assess the situation and, if it’s truly the network, he can resolve the issue from anywhere with Juniper Mist Wi-Fi Assurance and Marvis Virtual Network Assistant.
“Mist AI has made my job a whole lot easier,” he says.
Meeting the digital expectations of Gen Z
“A major part of student happiness is having their devices connected,” says McClure. “Juniper allows us to support our students’ expectations for connectivity really well.”
McClure once fielded multiple Wi-Fi-related tickets a week, consuming hours of time. Now a single wireless ticket is atypical. “With Juniper, we have nearly zero wireless tickets,” he says.
The dorm that previously had the worst Wi-Fi? The Juniper wall-plate AP12 and Mist AI Radio Resource Management now deliver a great dorm room Wi-Fi experience. McClure is so confident in Juniper wireless that he turned off the wired ports in those students’ rooms.
An AI-driven Juniper network helps the IT team prepare for the future and continuously improve the digital experience for students.
“Having usage data available in the Mist dashboard allows me to present a project quickly when grant money becomes available,” says McClure.
Published May 2022