Title: Senior AV Engineer and CAD Manager
Company: AVDB Group
Location: Nashville, TN
Certifications: CTS-D, CTS-I
Overtime: Sullins is one of the top ranked amateur pool players in the Southeast. She has placed 7th in the Music City 9-Ball Open tournament.
Why You Need to Know Her: A die-hard theater buff, Rebecca Sullins insists that she is just much more logical than she is artistic. As one of the top engineers at AVDB Group, she helps people create art and do business in a more logical manner.
She dually holds the role of CAD manager because she sees one of the biggest problems the AV industry has as efficiency in communication, or, as she puts it, “you’re only as good as your tools.”
It started as a pet project—writing custom scripts, macros, and programs to help expedite AutoCAD communication. “While it’s not necessarily about design, it allows you to work so much more efficiently that you can actually think about the design, as opposed to having to think about renumbering 1,500 line numbers in a schematic.”
How Julia Roberts Led Her to AV: Like any normal red-blooded American girl growing up, she wanted to be like her favorite movie star. She didn’t find herself very good at acting or singing, but loved the theater and became very involved. One day, the head of her middle school theater department approached her with a challenge: no one knows how to run the soundboard, go figure it out. After reading the manual cover to cover, Sullins established herself as the only one fit to run the board the next four years. So despite the lack of acting chops, “It turns out, I actually have very good ears and am good with electronics.”
She Found Just Five College Programs in AV: It just so happened that her home state university was second behind Yale with a top program for audio design and production.
At what was then known as the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the UNC School of the Arts), Sullins concentrated on audio design and engineering, a combination of systems design and theatrical soundspace design. Half of the required credit hours were designated for “production,” putting on shows of all types. That gave her hands on experience with everything from RF, editing, auralization, and ear training, down to precisely how to mic a tap dancer and how to make that weird sound effect that the director can’t quite describe to you, she said.
After some early career stints heading the sound department at the Sacramento Theatre Company and a touring gig for a Broadway style children’s show, she gravitated toward installed sound, spending a few years at Sound Image before joining AVDB Group.
Why She Isn’t Afraid of IT Anymore: Working on the ASU McCord Hall W.P. Carey School of Business, the AVDB team had to work closer than ever with an IT department. In the process, Sullins went and taught herself a lot about IT, trying to understand why this VLAN was split from that one, how to manage air streams as subnets on switches, and a whole lot of new language. The lesson was obvious: “AV and IT networking, they’re going to just merge and become one big blob over the next two years. I think it’s vitally important that all AV companies become almost IT companies as well.”
A Post-Convergence Title: If you’re an AV person, you probably already specialize in control and possibly lighting, and IT is the next addition to your job title acronym. Or if not, Sullins thinks, “It’s kind of like reading a book and not understanding what the letter A is.”