Design: Technology Classrooms
My primary job is to design Technology Classrooms. These are referred to by some as "smart" classrooms.
We have centrally scheduled technology classrooms and lecture halls as well as departmentally owned spaces. In both cases the design process starts with a meeting with the client to determine their needs. Then I work up a cost estimate and after the client decides what capabilities fit their budget, the equipment lists (in Adobe Portable Document Format PDF) are emailed to our Install and Repair departments for their review and approval. After any review changes, I generate the UB purchase requisitions and through the UB Purchasing Department the orders are placed with the vendors. I draw up the equipment rack elevations, system single line function flows, and other documentation (using AutoCad) and email these with the final equipment lists (in PDF) to our Install and Repair departments for their review and approval.
When the equipment is available, OSS Install preassembles it, delivers to the site, and finishes the system. I meet with OSS Install and OSS Repair to make the final system adjustments. In the case of departmentally owned spaces, I will then meet with the client to train them on the use of their Technology Classroom system. For centrally scheduled spaces, my department's staff (ITS: Instructional Technology Services) provides periodic training throughout the year for UB instructors.
OSS Repair provides 24 hour turn around time repair and maintenance of the systems. Usually the service is performed within a much shorter period of time as we are able to stock service parts for 95% of the components used in the technology classrooms.
Design: Audio Systems
When I began employment at UB in 1982, I primarily did sound system design. This began with instrumentation used for analysis such as the IVIE units. TEF was soon to follow, and with smaller instruments like SMART which runs on a modest portable computer, I have a range of tools for this design work. Some of us in the educational field believe that if a student cannot understand the instructor's voice, it probably doesn?t matter what visual aids are employed in the course of study. While we have not always been able to provide the best sound systems (read that the best intelligibility) we strive to always improve upon the existing.
Many times the space that is being considered for a technology conversion needs vocal reinforcement and program reproduction. While the typical 50 cap classroom usually gets a single amplified speaker on the front wall (chosen as the approach by others), this will not work adequately for larger venues. Given the space details, budget, and time frame I will work up a design that will provide the audience with good intelligibility, localization, and fidelity. In some cases, like that of Crosby 301, the acoustics of the space require treatment. Not a large space, but the arc of the ceiling provides an acoustic lens that focuses the sound wave in such a way as to make the space "sound" to the listener as a highly reverberant one. This, of course, hurts intelligibility. Working with the client, Architecture Department of UB and their consultant, we hope to change the intelligibility from the current evaluation of "poor" to "satisfactory." This will be the first UB space to employ the Duran Intellivox speaker used to steer the audio coverage into the seating area only and reduce the radiation delivered to the walls and ceiling areas which would excite the room?s ambient field
Most designs are of the distributed nature. Many speakers installed in the ceiling delivering the sound at low levels uniformly into the seating area. I have used DSPs: digital signal processors to great affect and reduction of component costs when compared to older discreet equalizers, limiters, notch filter units, etc.
While this may sound like a lot for one person to accomplish, let me point out that all these designs are really accomplished by groups of people who, while not in the same department, work as a team. Without ITS (my dept.), OSS Install, and OSS Repair these systems would not be at the level of technology and reliability that is found at UB. In the hay-day of technology design, we had 3 full time designers and about 10 student assistants on staff. Today, due to better efficiency and cost containment, I am the only designer remaining. Not an uncommon occurrence in today?s educational world.
I have other duties too. (And boy are you interested if you are still reading all of this!) I am called upon by OSS Install and Repair to assist them in daily problems. (Especially if these are problems with my realized designs!) I coordinated the UB cable television system channel assignments (no, I do not have anything to do with the programming). I maintain the UB CATV Information Channel slide show. Using my trusty digital camera I document the TC systems. This info along with the drawings, equipment lists, and other doc is maintained by myself on an ITS and OSS server and CDRom discs. This provides the staff with a much requested documentation resource. (The CDRom backups came in very handy when an unnamed department discarded all the hardcopy doc for 12 years of systems!). I arrange for ongoing equipment demonstrations on Campus in one of our TCs as a way to keep us informed about new toys which we can build into future designs.