FIU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism had a national reputation for excellence. But it didn’t have the state-of-the-art facility to match. For students to see what instructors were doing in culinary classes, they had to look at a mirror that reflected what the instructor was doing on the cooking surface. However, the mirror was set at a 45 degree angle above the cooking range, and only five out of 42 students could see the full session at a time.
And that wasn’t the only problem; when recording classes for distance learning, videographers had to record off the mirror, constantly moving around the room with a hand-held camera to shoot at different angles. The acoustics in the room were poor, and every time the videographers wanted to pick up a student’s voice, they had to take the lapel microphone off the instructor. The whole process was distracting to students and instructors alike. And it didn’t help the school’s image.
“Our program ranked sixth in the nation in Hospitality Management. We needed to update our facilities to show the world that the reason we ranked so highly was not only for the education we offer, but also our state-of-the-art facilities” said Dale R. Gomez, the school’s Computer Systems Control Coordinator. “We wanted to have world-class facilities, but we were still using this stone-age mirror, when there was technology out there and funding was available to upgrade. “
So school administrators decided to invest in audio-visual equip- ment that would position the school as a 21st Century model for universities and colleges nationwide. All they needed to get started was a company with know-how, ingenuity and the knack for customization to get the job done. That’s when they turned to United Data Technologies (UDT); a company with a reputation built on providing innovative solutions for customers.
THE UDT SOLUTION
UDT installed sophisticated audio-visual equipment that trans- formed the cooking lab from a drab classroom to a state-of-the-art broadcasting facility ā la the Food Network. The company’s audio visual technicians and engineers tackled the problem with the customer-centric approach the company has built its reputation upon. First taking the time to get a full grasp of the customer’s needs and unique approach to its challenges. The project required customization from beginning to end, and UDT met the challenge every step of the way.
UDT engineers replaced the out-dated mirror with three 65-inch Panasonic plasma monitors mounted on a truss above the cooking surface. They also installed six high-definition Panasonic cameras so videographers could film from different angles in the room. And they improved sound and audio capabilities by adding JBL speakers, ceiling and Lavalier microphones.
The company also installed confidence monitors, Crestron® control- lers and a wall-mounted PC teacher’s station to give instructors more audio-visual control while teaching. The equipment can also be operated in a control room built adjacent to the lab.
The biggest challenge engineers faced was building a truss to mount audio-visual equipment around existing equipment like the stove and extractors. It was daunting task that required customization, but it was what the customer wanted, and UDT delivered exactly what the client had envisioned.
Thanks to UDT the FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism is now a program positioned for the 21st century. Videographers can tape without disrupting classroom instruction. And, students can see the full cooking surface from wherever they sit in the classroom.
The new equipment also allows the school to produce shows featuring former students and celebrity chefs. It brings a “wow factor” to the hospitality program and provides the school with an opportunity to attract new students through its marketing collateral and show pieces.
But what matters most is what it means for students and instructors. Students are pleased because they see their tuition dollars being invested in improving the quality of their education. Instructors are satisfied because they can now teach more effectively in an environ- ment that’s both inspiring and entertaining. And they can perform under the cameras without too many distractions.
With the new equipment, everything works smoothly to create a better learning atmosphere for everyone involved. And the School of Hospitality and Tourism is poised for the 21st Century.