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Best in Class of 2022: Iowa State University

Iowa State University
(Image credit: Future)

GOALS

Iowa State University (opens in new tab): Katie Baumgarn wears many hats at Iowa State University which span classroom scheduling specialist, Facilities, and Planning & Management. She has overseen room scheduling for the 200+ general university classrooms at Iowa State for 30 years. All that time, she had a dream to create a classroom in the round, a classroom specifically designed to encourage every student in the class to engage face-to-face with one another. When Iowa State University was building its new Student Innovation Center, she found her ideal opportunity. Baumgarn reached out to Mike Pedersen, the newly hired audiovisual experience manager at Iowa State and described her dream. Pedersen loved the idea and immediately had a vision for an audiovisual system to make it a reality. Iowa State ultimately contracted all the audiovisual work in the new building to long-time integration partner, Mechdyne Corporation. Soon, Aaron Peterson was tasked to take Katie’s dream and Mike’s technology vision and make them a reality.

Iowa State University

The overall solution provides a unique opportunity for instruction where there is much less lecturing and much more discussion, debate and group questioning. (Image credit: Iowa State University )

CHALLENGES

The main challenge to overcome in converting the dream to a reality was determining the display locations so every student would have a clear view of the content being presented. The team considered several options, including placing the projection screens in the four corners of the room. Ultimately the idea emerged of a “scoreboard” type layout and the displays were placed to hang from the ceiling in the center of the room. 

“I didn’t like the early ideas with projectors in the corners,” said Pedersen. “Instead, I had a vision for displays hanging from the ceiling above the instructor’s head.” With that rough vision in mind, Mechdyne was concerned about clear viewing angles for everyone in the room. Peterson recalls, “Taking note from many large arenas that were installing massive scoreboards above basketball courts and hockey rinks, specifically being a Minnesotan, and taking reference from Target Center’s new scoreboard, I came up with the idea of smaller displays behind the larger ones, so the front row could look across, past the professor, and onto the inner side of the display ring to get their content.” Having worked with Iowa State on prior projects, Mechdyne also understood that many instructors find it beneficial to be able to show two different sources simultaneously, so they went one step further and instead of single displays, they suggested outer and inner pairs of ceiling mounted displays.

Another huge challenge was COVID-19. The audiovisual installations throughout the innovation center started in January 2020. During the pandemic, Mechdyne worked closely with the Iowa State project team to establish safe working protocols so the installation could continue. It did, however, slow down the overall progress, and even after it was completed, it delayed significant use of the room until spring 2021.

Iowa State University

“As we are able to create a unique learning and teaching environment," Baumgarn said. "One that will encourage a connection between the students and instructor like no other space on campus!” (Image credit: Iowa State University )

USER BENEFITS

In addition to the unique display configuration, the Student Innovation Center was also the first large-scale AV-over-IP system at Iowa State. The network infrastructure team in the Information Technology Services unit was instrumental in designing and configuring a building wide network solution that could support the extensive AV-over-IP requirements. In the end, due to the number and location of the displays, the AV design for the classroom in the round ended up being a hybrid system with both AV-over-IP and HDBaseT technologies employed. It is a good example of using the right tool for the job, even if that includes a mix and match solution.

The overall solution provides a unique opportunity for instruction where there is much less lecturing and much more discussion, debate and group questioning. The room configuration is well suited for humanities areas such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science and even world languages.

Baumgarn saw her dream come true. “Having a classroom in the round is so exciting,” she said. “As we are able to create a unique learning and teaching environment. One that will encourage a connection between the students and instructor like no other space on campus!”

Iowa State University

(Left to right) Katie Baumgarn, Classroom Scheduling Specialist, Facilities, Planning & Management, Iowa State; Mike Pedersen, Audiovisual Experience Manager, Information Technology Services, Iowa State; Aaron Peterson, Senior Solutions Engineer, Mechdyne Corporation (Image credit: Iowa State University )

THE AV/IT TEAM

Katie Baumgarn, Classroom Scheduling Specialist, Facilities, Planning & Management, Iowa State

Liz Clark, Project Manager, Facilities, Planning & Management, Iowa State

Mike Pedersen, Audiovisual Experience Manager, Information Technology Services, Iowa State

Mike Vinson, Network Engineer II, Information Technology, Iowa State

Aaron Peterson, Senior Solutions Engineer, Mechdyne Corporation

Jocelyn Boehm, Project Manager, Mechdyne Corporation

Matt Nitchie, Sales Manager, Mechdyne Corporation 

DATE COMPLETED:  July 2020

TECH SNAPSHOT


MORE BEST IN CLASS OF 2022

Best in Class of 2022: Grand Valley State University (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: Indiana University (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: Iowa State University (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Heritage College (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: Pepperdine University (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: University of Guelph (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: University of Massachusetts Lowell (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: University of North Carolina Wilmington (opens in new tab)

Best in Class of 2022: University of Southern California (opens in new tab)


Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.