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Higher education settings are facing a new reality: the need for a collaborative learning environment that reaches beyond the confines of a traditional classroom. The Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, recently opened the doors to its new building, Brigadier General Simmons Center for Marine Corps History and Warner Center for Advanced Military Studies, and in it is an array of AV capabilities that affords instructors new ways to communicate course content. By leveraging Middle Atlantic Products’ Web-based Configuration tool, integrator Karcher Group was able to effortlessly design and deliver cutting-edge systems to make the learning experience at the military institution rich and interactive — thus meeting the demanding needs of both staff and students. 

“As instructors seek new ways to disseminate information to students, learning environments are transforming into more interactive spaces where content needs to be readily accessible and transferrable,” said Hong Cheng, Vice President of Technical Operations, Karcher Group. “For the integrator, this makes planning a crucial part of the AV selection and implementation process. Without properly specifying the right tools at the start, costs can quickly spiral out of control — creating frustrating delays later in the project for the customer and efficiency problems for the onsite installer.”

The new building boasts 29 classrooms, two tiered classrooms, three large collaboration rooms, five small collaboration rooms, a 300-person lecture hall, a 500-seat theater, as well as other meeting and teaching spaces. Many of the rooms are outfitted with impressive video systems to provide a fully interactive learning environment. The lecture hall, for example, features a six–by-six video wall with 55-inch displays and full production capabilities. The theater is equipped with a 7.2 surround sound system, 34.5-foot projection screen, and a 33,000-lumen projector. Throughout the building are additional video walls and screens with an array of input options for laptops, video conferencing systems, and document cameras. As a result, teaching staff have several different methods for presenting content.

All these systems must be easy to use and operate at the touch of a button. To that end, each space is equipped with a control system operated by a custom, intuitively designed touch panel. From the touch panel, users can also request assistance from the Karcher Group integrated centralized help desk. The help desk operator can remotely troubleshoot the system or dispatch a technician to the fix the system issues.

Behind the scenes, all the inputs and signals are fed back to 55 equipment racks throughout the building. Specifying, ordering, and assembling that many racks would have been a large, time consuming job. Karcher Group turned to Middle Atlantic’s web-based Configurator to make the process easier and remarkably faster. Accessible anytime, anywhere from any Web-enabled device, the leading-edge configuration solution facilitates the creation, personalization, and design process by streamlining the selection of suitable products & accessories for any type of system via smart recommendations — along with a priced materials list. With 24/7 access, users can also export CAD and other design documents to be easily integrated into their standard design process, enabling the creation of new projects, a stored history of user projects, and convenient direct online ordering. By leveraging the robust platform, users can easily browse through the Middle Atlantic catalog, automatically generate quotes on projects with or without pricing, and receive orders pre-assembled or with downloadable assembly instructions from the site. The feature-rich platform eliminates scheduling woes normally associated with the design and specification process of large-scale projects. 

“As an integrator and a Middle Atlantic customer, working with the Configurator simply made my job easier,” added Cheng. “Many of the rooms had the same systems, so I was able to quickly order the same rack configuration for all those classrooms. Instead of ordering a list of parts, my entire product list is bundled into one part number – streamlining the ordering process. Having the equipment racks shipped preassembled also saved our team a ton of man-hours, but by far, my favorite feature on Configurator is the ability to easily see the equipment and layout visualized exactly where I wanted each component. The tool is indispensable for large AV projects; it’s become a key step in our integration process.”

Since installing the technologically advanced audiovisual system, Marine Corps University has created a learning atmosphere that inspires collaboration and innovation. At the same time, Karcher Group’s AV solution has eliminated many problems that were common in the past. 

For instance, a streamlined help desk process has enhanced communication for immediate responses and resolutions to everyday problems. Planned-out using Middle Atlantic’s Configurator software, Karcher Group was able to deliver an extremely effective overall system — both in terms of man hours spent and user operation — while meeting every requirement set forth by the client. As a result, the institution remains future-proofed for providing interactive experiences for years to come while presently putting a world of content at the fingertips of its staff members and students.