Class of 2024: University of Rhode Island

Class of 2024 - URI
(Image credit: Getty Images)

University of Rhode Island: Left to Right: James Xiong, information technologist; Jeff Levesque, lead information technologist; Katie Babula, AV manager; Ethan Hicks, senior information technologist

Left to Right: James Xiong, information technologist; Jeff Levesque, lead information technologist; Katie Babula, AV manager; Ethan Hicks, senior information technologist (Image credit: University of Rhode Island)

AV/IT TEAM: Jeff Levesque, lead information technologist; Ethan Hicks, senior information technologist; James Xiong, information technologist; Katie Babula, AV manager 

GOALS:  The Robert J. Higgins Welcome Center is the heart of the public-facing side of the University of Rhode Island. Built in 2018, it hosts dinners, board meetings, and retreats, on top of being the entry point for all prospective students and their families. The original AV design did not take into account the variety of happenings in the space, and the emergence of hybrid events meant the system needed an overhaul to meet the necessity of current demands on the building.

The main purpose of this project was to update the AV in two presentation rooms and a conference room, in addition to adding audio playback and announcement functions in the public-facing spaces. This redesign needed to take into account the flexibility of functions in the building and allow the building to work as both individual spaces and a cohesive unit.

University of Rhode Island

(Image credit: University of Rhode Island)

CHALLENGES:  Consolidation of three separate AV systems into one building-wide system necessitated the installation of an entirely new dedicated AV network. It took a coordinated effort by our entire four-person team to find pathways all throughout the building and pull the thousands of feet of category cable necessary for installing over 60 new network drops. Once all the new cabling was in place, standing up the new network became the next challenge to ensuring that all audio, video, and control passed along this network without any issues.

Furthermore, the size of the main presentation space presented challenges from an audio perspective. Vaulted ceilings and no attic access meant traditional ceiling or suspended microphones were not an option. A combination of several solutions was required to adequately amplify presenters’ voices while also capturing audience interactions for hybrid events.

University of Rhode Island

(Image credit: University of Rhode Island)

Q-SYS: QSC Core 510i, QSC NV-32-H, QSC Speakers, QSC NC-20x60, Shure MXA 910 and 710 microphones, Sony Professional Displays, NETGEAR M4250 line of switches

FINAL INSTALL/USER BENEFITS: The most immediately apparent benefit of the project is the ability for the spaces to quickly pivot between the different events happening each day. When the morning’s information session wraps up, tour guides in the lobby can easily make announcements to direct families out into the campus. As they file out to explore the beauty of Rhode Island, the presentation room is already being flipped into lecture mode for that evening’s presentation on the similarities between poker and personal finance. The interconnectedness of the spaces allows for events to overflow into other spaces at a moment’s notice, without requiring the full team of AV technicians on site. 

With the addition of cameras and microphones, each meeting space can host hybrid meetings or presentations, whether from the in-room computer or the user-provided laptop. The combination of the Shure microphones and QSC PTZ cameras within the Q-SYS environment allows for automatic preset recall to supply meaningful camera shots as the speaker moves around the room, which elevates the hybrid experience in any of the three presentation spaces.

Contributing Writer

Macy O'Hearn has been a contributing writer to AV Technology since 2019 where her focus is working on the Technology Manager's Guides. In addition, O'Hearn has contributed articles to SCN, and is the editor for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 Digital Signage magazine.