Technology updates made in Rotunda D

Jessica Addington

Many changes were made in Rotunda D over summer break. The top priority was to upgrade the technology and equipment for a better learning and teaching environment for both professors and students. New projectors, screens and upgraded equipment used for teaching were installed in Rotunda D on professors’ requests.

The idea was to project more information in the front of the room than was previously available. This was designed so that the students in the far left and far right of the room could see the same information as the students seated in the middle of the room. Rotunda D is one of the largest classrooms on campus so the professors asked for more changes to better teach their subject to the students.

“The changes we did were faculty input but it was for student learning. I hope we did okay,” said Dr. Michael Adelaine, Vice President for Information Technology.

The projectors transmit the information to the screens so that the subject material can be seen easily in both day and nighttime classes. The projectors were switched over from analog to digital high definition resolution to ensure picture quality just like one would see in a movie theater.

The camera view was also switched from standard to wide so that the entire picture of the professors’ PowerPoint could be seen and not cut off. The different projectors allow the professors to put a variety of information in front of the class. For instance, before the renovations the projectors could only show one image on all screens but now something completely different can be on each screen simultaneously.

“The projectors are significantly higher powered. They are higher definition and each one weighs about 100 lbs. They use heavy duty lenses,” Adelaine said.

The new projectors are so heavy, scissor lifts had to be built in order for easy access to the projectors. If a light bulb burnt out last year than the class was over because the professors needed the technology to teach effectively. The scissor lifts allow for quick light bulb changes in between classes.

Each projector starts with two light bulbs so that if one goes out the projection still remains on the screens. An early detection system was installed so that in the event a light did go out then the technology staff would be informed so they could fix it as soon as possible. Before the scissor lifts, it was harder for the techs to reach the projectors. They had to move in scaffolding to reach the technology.

“It wasn’t cheap. Technology is very expensive,” said Dean Kattelmann, assistant vice president of facilities and services.

The cables were also upgraded to accommodate the HD signal from the projectors to the screens. The high definition wires needed more shielding to project their signal. The cables used to be stored on the side of the stage but are now stored in the platform up front where the professors put their materials.

More podium space was added to give the professors more room for their materials. The wireless microphones that the professors use are hard to keep operational so extra sets and extra batteries are kept in the backroom. Any other working equipment is stored in the backroom for easy access. The touch screen in front was upgraded to a larger format and is more sophisticated in its design.

Some minor upgrades and add-ons to Rotunda D involved screens, seats and insulation. The number of screens in Rotunda D went from two to three. The screens were very heavy so the tech crew had to build walls for them to sit on. The number of total seats increased and more left-handed seats were added. Insulation was also put in the walls to better control the temperature.

“We didn’t get around to painting the room during the summer so this will be done over Christmas break. The paint will be new but the color will remain the same,” Kattelmann said.

With all the technological advances and equipment upgrades, professors who were teaching classes in Rotunda D for the fall semester had to be taught how to use this new technology during the summer. The new touch screen paneling can be a little intimidating at first but the training and workshop that the instructors had to go through helped them learn how to integrate this new technology into their teaching.

The instructors were also asked to compare the quality of a concert type projector costing $100,000 a piece and cheaper projectors costing $20,000. The professors picked the cheaper projectors because there was no real difference in resolutions The $20,000 projectors have better resolution than the old ones and cost $7,000 more. Apparently it was worth the price. Kendra Hill, biology professor, said, “[The improvements are] awesome. They are unbelievable, the microphones, screens, and technology. It was well worth the money to make improvements.”

“Rotunda D is a model for larger classrooms. We are looking to duplicate this idea to other classrooms across campus,” Adelaine said.