Classrooms get updated technology

Williams and Meyerson halls, DRL among rooms with new technology upgrades

The Daily Pennsylvanian
September 04, 2003

Classrooms get updated technology

The Center for Programs in Critical Writing has recently received telecommunications equipment as part of a technology renovation that also upgraded David Rittenhouse Laboratory, Williams Hall and Meyerson Hall.

Photo by Julia Zhou/The Daily Pennsylvanian

David Rittenhouse Laboratory may not have gotten Hamilton College House's spiffy green windows over the summer, but it did get some shiny new software.

As part of a continuing technological upgrade program, classrooms across campus received new wiring, projection equipment, computers and other high-tech teaching tools over the summer.

Four classrooms on the second and fourth floors of Williams Hall were renovated, as were three classrooms in DRL. Meyerson Hall B1, the largest classroom on campus, and one seminar room in the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, at 3808 Walnut Street, were also targeted.

The project cost a total of $1 million, with approximately $600,000 directed towards the new technology, and $1.1 million directed towards infrastructure upgrades necessary for the equipment to function.

Although students only saw construction crews over the summer, planning for the renovations began last September. Annually, officials from the registrar's office meet with Information Systems and Computing technical directors to determine which classrooms need renovation. Over the course of the year, plans are discussed with faculty representatives in order to ensure that the renovations sufficiently meet professors' needs.

Renovated classrooms come from the communal classroom pool -- also known as the central pool -- which means that the rooms can be used by all departments.

Each room receives renovations tailored to its primary teaching needs. Meyerson Hall B1, for example, is often used by architecture and art history students. Therefore, a high-end video projector and a new microphone system were installed, Information Technological Technical Director of Classroom Technical Services Steve Fabiani explained.

The seminar room in the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing received sophisticated telecommunications equipment, plasma screens and other hardware. The upgrades allow the room to be a studio for PennSound, a new venture designed to digitally archive poetry while making it more accessible to students across the globe.

Wharton junior Elena Avramov, who had a French class in a Williams Hall classroom that underwent similar renovations last year, found that the CD player and overhead projector were "very useful, at least for our class."

Although the primary goal of the project was to improve technology, contractors also strove to improve the rooms' appearance.

When you walk into DRL, "you feel like you're in a completely different building. The difference is staggering," Fabiani said.

The renovations have given the CPCW seminar room "the comfort of a salon, but with new technology," English Professor and Director of the Kelly Writers House Alan Filreis said.

"It's just gorgeous," he added.

"The more we renovate, the more pleasurable the environment becomes, and that helps the learning process," Fabiani said, noting that his department is beginning the process of choosing which classrooms will be renovated next summer.