The University of North Carolina’s UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy offers
one of the top Doctor of Pharmacy, or PharmD, programs in the U.S. As
a premier research and health sciences education facility, UNC recognizes
the need to provide students with an exceptional learning experience. "Technology
has shaped the way we teach, learn, work, and conduct business," says
Bob Blouin, Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. "Through technology,
we are able to engage students in the classroom as well as partners across
the state and beyond to foster high-quality and meaningful interactions
in real time."
"Extron system commissioning engineers were very helpful in coming
out to certify the switching and checking everything for us so the
system was ready in time for the returning students."
Senior Systems Consultant, Whitlock
The AV system needed to be upgraded and expanded to support and combine
the best of traditional teaching methods with the latest technological
advancements. A primary concern for the upgrade was to ensure high definition/high
resolution content could be transmitted over significant distances. Additionally,
to avoid disrupting the learning process, the new system had to be installed
during the short 2011 summer break and fully functional before classes
resumed in August.
To achieve these goals, Thorburn Associates Inc. designed a fiber optic
system with Extron products for UNC. Fiber was selected because of the
distances involved, space limitations, and signal immunity needs. AV
and control signals needed to pass through existing conduit with other
signals, including audio runs, microphone cabling, and additional signal
types; multiple signals transmitted over a single fiber cable address
this issue. For integration, Whitlock was selected to install this innovative
application. According to Jim Stephens, Senior Systems Consultant at
Whitlock, "Time was the number one crunch."
Exceptional AV for Educating Tomorrow’s Pharmacists
The campus-wide AV system ensures reliable transmission of high resolution
content, leveraging UNC’s high-level faculty at the Chapel Hill campus
to successfully extend the PharmD program to students in remote locations.
Extron FOX Series fiber optic products were the optimal choice for reliable,
high performance signal distribution at Chapel Hill. When asked why the
campus system was designed around an Extron solution, Associate Principal
at Thorburn Associates, Derek Meares, explained, "We picked Extron because
of the quality of the equipment and the support we get. We’ve always
had really good design support, and know we can get help and follow-up
from Extron. I’m not always so confident with some other manufacturers."
Whitlock installers, working in teams in order to meet the tight two-month
deadline, retrofitted the main facility with an armored fiber optic infrastructure,
and updated specific classrooms for digital and high-definition transmissions.
The system is designed around a modular Extron FOX
Matrix 320x fiber optic matrix switcher with FOX
I/O 1616 MM 16x16 multimode fiber optic boards. Open slots on the
matrix switcher allow for future system expansion up to a maximum size
of 320x320. This layout allows management and monitoring of the connected
rooms from a single workstation within the Tech Core area.
A video teleconferencing system is used to link the main campus at Chapel
Hill with the two additional PharmD campuses in North Carolina: one in
Elizabeth City and another in Asheville. The system is connected to the
FOX Matrix switching system at the Chapel Hill campus to allow access
from connected classrooms, auditoriums, and lecture halls. This solution
provides UNC Chapel Hill with an all-digital switching and routing system
for a wide variety of digital and analog devices.
Individual classrooms and other areas can be linked to the FOX Matrix
320x. The fiber system enables reliable, high performance switching and
distribution of various signals, including live and prerecorded lectures,
presentation data, HDCP-encrypted content, and subject matter from respected
Extron FOX Series transmitters and receivers support a wide range of
video formats and resolutions to allow the devices at the main campus
to interface with the new fiber optic backbone. The system supports existing
and new sources, including lecture-capture devices for recording class
sessions, PTZ cameras, document cameras, PCs and interactive pen displays,
DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, and connections for laptops and equipment
brought in by guest lecturers.
System Commissioning Ensured Pixel-Perfect Transmission
During the system commissioning process, engineers from Thorburn Associates,
Whitlock, and Extron ensured that EDID communication, HDCP support, and
scaler settings were properly configured for maximum flexibility and
interoperability between devices. In addition to on-site commissioning
services, Extron provided training to the integrator for insertion loss
testing, which ensures optimal performance of the cabling infrastructure
comprised of fiber optic cables, connectors, couplers, and splices, such
as at Chapel Hill. "Extron system commissioning engineers were very helpful
in coming out to certify the switching and checking everything for us
so the system was ready in time for the returning students," says Stephens.
AV Fiber Solution Spans Campus
The FOX Matrix 320x, FOX Series extenders, and fiber optic backbone
at Chapel Hill ensure that the university can use existing equipment
while also providing a flexible and expandable solution for the future.