Large classrooms to get tech upgrades

CAC work

The computation advisory committee (CAC), a 20-member advisory group made up of students, faculty and staff, makes recommendations for use of student computer technology fees. About $10 million in tech fees was collected for the 2017-18 academic year, with the majority of funds following students to their colleges and departments. About $1 million was centrally pooled for recurring costs, unique needs and big-picture projects, such as the general classroom upgrades.

High-tech improvements are on the way for 10 of Iowa State's larger classrooms, with work beginning this summer. The university's computation advisory committee (CAC) awarded nearly $830,000 for upgrades to help instructors seamlessly connect with standardized, state-of-the-art classroom technology.

Investing in the future

Alex Ramirez, CAC chair and interim assistant dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said the upgrades will solve compatibility issues many instructors face when connecting laptops to classroom equipment.

"The new equipment will allow any type of laptop to connect," Ramirez said. "Different laptops with different resolution capabilities sometimes don't match the projector. This system will automatically adjust for that and make sure it's fully compatible."

With per room estimates ranging from about $63,000 to $94,000, Ramirez said an investment in state-of-the-art upgrades now will pay off in the future with more durable equipment that can adapt to changing technology.

"In the process of standardization -- so that things are more uniform across the classrooms -- we need to invest in higher-end equipment that provides us with greater flexibility for everything," Ramirez said.

High-impact priorities

Representatives from CAC, facilities planning and management, and IT services worked to prioritize technology needs in Iowa State's general classrooms. They identified 10 large classrooms in eight different buildings.

"The biggest impact will be in the auditoriums," said David Popelka, associate chief information officer in IT services. "These spaces have the greatest need, both in student volume and technology upgrades."

Existing equipment will be removed. Upgrades will include laser projectors (no more burned-out bulbs), sound systems, universal controllers, Solstice wireless display sharing capabilities and universal connectors for laptops. The rooms also will be wired for audio/visual "classroom capture" equipment needed for online or recorded sessions.

Most of the work is expected to happen over the summer, planned around scheduled use, maintenance and repairs. The spaces receiving tech makeovers are:

  • 205 and 305 Carver
  • 127 Curtiss
  • 2055 Hoover
  • 125 Kildee
  • 2019 Morrill
  • 117 MacKay
  • 003 and 005 Physics
  • 022 Sukup