All photos courtesy of Maricopa County Community College District*

Extron AV Switching and Control Help Phoenix College IT Institute Create a Skilled IT Workforce

The IT Institute AV systems rely on Extron switching, distribution, and control. All rooms network to our GlobalViewer Enterprise server, allowing us to monitor and control the AV systems remotely for maintenance and to help faculty operate the AV. This is very important, since we are located offsite at our main campus three miles away.

Henry Denman
Audio-Visual Coordinator
Phoenix College

Phoenix College was established in 1920 with a class of just 18 students. Today, it has 17,000 students enrolled in over 150 associate degree and certificate programs. The college emphasizes workforce development and promotes a symbiotic relationship with industry in the Phoenix metropolitan area and surrounding Maricopa County. In a September 2020 ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Maricopa IT Institute — ITI — opened to further that mission. The Community College District administration funded creation of the ITI in response to feedback from local business leaders expressing an acute need for qualified IT professionals. The ITI offers instruction in cloud computing, cybersecurity, desktop support, Linux administration, mobile app development, networking, programming, systems analysis, virtualization, web development, and windows server administration. In addition, ITI graduates pass rigorous tests required to earn CompTIA A+ certification, the gold standard credential for IT skills competency.

Challenges

An existing district building underwent an extensive remodel to create the ITI’s new home. It’s a place where students learn in classroom settings, get hands-on experience in well-equipped labs, and collaborate with business partners to explore entrepreneurial opportunities. The building is packed with IT, AV, and network technology that not only supports classroom lesson delivery, but also serves as a real-life testbed where students can get into the guts of computers, networks, and AV systems. They can roll up their sleeves to gain practical experience that makes them confident that they can solve difficult computer and network problems when they enter the IT working world.

Extron switching and control equipment constitutes a lot of the AV tech that students encounter in their studies. Over 150 items of Extron equipment are used in the ITI’s AV systems.

Solution

The A+ Classroom, two lecture rooms, Industry Collaboration Suites, and a Techpreneurship Suite occupy the ground floor. The second floor houses the Networking Classroom, Mac Lab, Windows Lab, and the Cybersecurity Classroom. Chuck Fortino, AV Project Manager for Phoenix College and Henry Denman, Audio-Visual Coordinator, oversaw design and installation of the classroom AV and IT systems with assistance from Phoenix College Technical Support Specialists Jason Powell, Scott Eroe, Dylan Witzleb, and Daniel Douros. They received installation assistance from Phoenix area pro technology integrator Aspen Technologies.

Classrooms with Varied Uses Share a Common AV System Design

For simplicity of design and maintenance, similar AV components and connections are used in each room. Some rooms have projectors, while others have multiple flat panel displays. All classrooms have an instructor podium that supplies AV program content from a PC, document camera, or external sources, including wireless sharing from BYOD devices over WiFi. An Extron IN1804 or IN1806 Presentation Switcher in the podium selects among the sources. Content is fed to the podium touchscreen display via HDMI, and to the room displays over shielded twisted pair cable using Extron DTP transmitters and receivers. Each podium contains a TLP Pro 725M 7" touchpanel that works with an IPCP Pro control processor to control system power, source selection, volume, and the projection screen in rooms equipped with a video projector.

For delivery of clear audio, classrooms are fitted with FF 220T wide dispersion ceiling-mounted speakers that provide consistent sound levels across the listening area. The speakers are driven by XPA 1002 amplifiers. Most of the rooms contain two speakers for stereo sound. The Network and A+ rooms are equipped with three speakers per stereo channel to accommodate the size and layout of these spaces.

In a nod to energy savings in Phoenix’s desert locale, OCS 100C occupancy sensors linked to the control processors automatically turn off all classroom technology when the rooms are empty. Additionally, the AV-IT support department uses Extron GlobalViewer Enterprise to monitor and control the AV systems remotely from the main campus about three miles away. According to the department’s Henry Denman. “This allows us to monitor the systems from a central location for maintenance purposes and also control them remotely to provide rapid support to faculty.”

Cybersecurity Classroom

With the proliferation of hacks and ransomware incidents plaguing enterprises worldwide, cybersecurity professionals are in high demand. This classroom is designed to turn out these pros. It’s also the most complex classroom in the building. It includes its own isolated LAN where students gain experience unraveling IT mayhem planted by their instructors. There are four student pods, each with five PCs. 50" flat panel displays at each pod receive content via XTP receivers connected to an XTP II CrossPoint 1600 Matrix Switcher. The five PCs supply content to the Matrix Switcher via an IN1806 Presentation Switcher at each pod. Each pod has a TLP Pro 525T 5" touchpanel where students select which PC supplies AV content. In this way, students can collaborate within their own pod using their own display, and the instructor can take control using the touchpanel in the instructor podium to send content from one particular pod to all other pods or push content from any of the podium sources to all pods.

Results

The ITI was opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phoenix College adapted by conducting 90 percent of classes online. The ITI offered a single in-person class during the Fall 2020 semester. ITI Project Manager Chuck Fortino is confident that the ITI will live up to its full potential as in-person classes resume. He notes, “One of the reasons that I love the work that we do here at the college is because I’m very much aware that a significant number of our students are the first members of their families to ever attend college. I’m sure I reflect the feelings of the entire ITI project team when I say that it’s a privilege to be a part of an organization that has the potential to change the trajectory of our students' lives. I hope that the Maricopa IT Institute at Phoenix College will have a lasting impact on our students and our community. Toward that end, we are always looking for ways to improve and upgrade the AV systems that we install.”

* Use of MCCCD images and logos on this website is with limited permission for informational purposes and is not intended as an endorsement or promotion of Extron services or products.
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