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Best in Class of 2022: University of North Carolina Wilmington

University of North Carolina Wilmington
(Image credit: Future)

GOALS

University of North Carolina Wilmington (opens in new tab): This past winter, the University of North Carolina Wilmington performed massive renovations of the Upperman African American Cultural Center, giving it expanded space and new AV solutions to better serve the African American student population on campus. The AV design was led in house by UNCW’s Integrated Educational Technologies team. The team’s vision for the space was a multi-functional system that could facilitate student collaboration and learning, virtual conferencing, and social gatherings.

University of North Carolina Wilmington

The space now has four zones, each with a flat panel display and ceiling speakers. These spaces are: a video-conferencing room, an art gallery, a library, and “the living room.” (Image credit: University of North Carolina Wilmington)

CHALLENGES

The design presented some unique challenges beyond the normal educational space. Before the expansion, Upperman had a single large-screen display in their main space with an HDMI connection and USB port, and this upfit represented a significant leap forward in available technology in the space. The designer, Richard Blaylock, wanted to make sure the space would have technology it would use, so there were several meetings with Sean Palmer, the center’s director, to inform on recommendations. The system needed to have discrete controls in each of four spaces, while still being one unified system that could be controlled from a central touch panel. 

With the system needs in place, UNCW settled on using a traditional point-to-point video matrix and central DSP. An AV-over-IP system was considered, but for the scope of the project, the fixed-architecture matrix switch better matched the need. 

University of North Carolina Wilmington

The system needed to have discrete controls in each of four spaces, while still being one unified system that could be controlled from a central touch panel.  (Image credit: University of North Carolina Wilmington)

USER BENEFITS

The space now has four zones, each with a flat panel display and ceiling speakers. These spaces are a video-conferencing room, an art gallery, a library, and “the living room,” which is for events and general student use. When not being actively used, the displays show digital signage, but, using local control points, can be swapped over to wireless collaboration units, wall input plates, or a micro-PC connected to the conferencing system. From the conference room touch panel, any input can be routed to any of the output zones using a simple-selection GUI with robust feedback.

A final function that has been planned for a future installation is a media conversion and playback system. Upperman owns an extensive library of rare media, such as out-of-print records, speeches, news and television broadcasts, and other cultural and historic media. To preserve this, a recording and playback system was designed that would allow Upperman staff to digitize the media, and then for students to use a touch panel interface that would recall and play the media on a designated display in the space.

University of North Carolina Wilmington

When not being actively used, the displays show digital signage. (Image credit: University of North Carolina Wilmington)

THE AV/IT TEAM

The AV design was led in house by UNCW’s Integrated Educational Technologies team.

DATE COMPLETED:  December 20, 2021

TECH SNAPSHOT


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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.