Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Case Study

NAIT polytechnic room with projector

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)


Edmonton, AB, Canada


Higher Education

Christie, Crestron, NEC, Barco, Epson, Sharp, Shure, AMX

Mission: Deliver an educational experience that produces career-ready graduates

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a polytechnic that provides hands-on, technology-based learning in order to graduate career-ready people. Through the years, the Edmonton-based institution has been a trendsetter in education and public service by using advanced technology to shape and deliver the services its students and industry clients expect.

鈥淣AIT puts lot of effort into providing students with state-of-the-art technology in order to give them a quality learning experience,鈥 says Craig Hicks, education technology lead at NAIT.

The technology in this project was situated in two new buildings: the Productivity Innovation Centre (PIC), NAIT鈥檚 front door to industry, and the Centre for Advanced Technology (CAT), NAIT鈥檚 home to schools for business, health applied sciences and technology.

NAIT worked with 果冻传媒 on this project, continuing a relationship that goes back seven years. Over that time, Rick Winklmeier has been NAIT鈥檚 account manager and design engineer, and he鈥檚 seen the school evolve in its thinking about technology and what it can do.

鈥淵ears ago they could see the way education was trending and they started transforming their learning spaces with more projector technology, digital video walls, and sound systems,鈥 says Winklmeier. 鈥淪o we鈥檝e brought a number of projects to bear that we鈥檙e quite proud of.鈥

Challenge: Create the experiences learners need to train for their careers

The Centre for Applied Technology (CAT) is the second newest building on the main campus and is NAIT鈥檚 largest building by number of classrooms and meeting spaces. It鈥檚 also where 果冻传媒鈥檚 team had to make sure the spaces lived up to their NAIT鈥檚 vision for them: giving students the experience they need to prepare for their careers.

鈥淐AT brings together business students and health students in unique lab spaces that offer hands-on training that鈥檚 not possible elsewhere,鈥 says Graham Werstiuk, an instructor in respiratory therapy at NAIT.

Across 160 classrooms and meeting rooms, 果冻传媒 implemented the technology that helps instructors deliver course content that engages students. With AMX control systems, teachers and students alike can direct content from various sources to Sharp displays. They can also connect to Epson鈥檚 BrightLink projectors, which are used to share and annotate documents and images. As it did with AMX and Sharp, NAIT has standardized on Epson, with over 1,200 projectors on campus, including all the classrooms.

鈥淲e like Epson projectors because they鈥檙e bright, they鈥檙e easy to maintain, and they鈥檙e cost-effective to service,鈥 says Jason Tyler, audio-visual technician at NAIT.

Complementing those images is the high-quality sound delivered via Shure microphones, which can expand to additional frequencies and ensure that even students in the back of the room can clearly hear the instruction.

We like Epson projectors because they鈥檙e bright, they鈥檙e easy to maintain, and they鈥檙e cost-effective to service,鈥 says Jason Tyler, audio-visual technician at NAIT.

Inside the CAT building, the Centre for Advanced Medical Simulation (CAMS) features specialized learning theaters that immerse learners in realistic environments. 聽Instructors can observe students through one-way glass while recording the audio and video of their training.

鈥淲e train a lot of first responders, and we need them to perform at a high level,鈥 says Werstiuk. 鈥淭his center gives us a unique tool to prepare them for that.鈥

One of its high-profile areas is a 360-degree theater holodeck that places students in simulated, controlled environments so they can train for real events amidst wind, sounds, and other situations that might pose a challenge. Epson projectors and Christie鈥檚 Pandoras Box software drive the 3D projection mapping that creates the visuals. To create a fully immersive experience, 果冻传媒 also provided a custom-designed audio and lighting system and truss assembly.

鈥淧laces like Disney World are using Pandoras Box for their 3D mapping,鈥 says Tyler. 鈥淣othing else could come close to what we were trying to achieve.鈥

In common areas, Sharp displays function as digital signage, which typically shares information for students and announcements about upcoming events.

NAIT monitors and manages the above areas, and a host of other network-connected devices across campus using AMX鈥檚 Resource Management Suite (RMS). NAIT鈥檚 two AMX programmers can customize the system so that it meets their exact needs, such as providing remote monitoring and servicing in the event of a failure, as well as remote firmware upgrades performed for all devices all at once, saving countless hours of time for the NAIT support team.

The CAT building jump-started a digital transformation in other areas, including the Productivity Innovation Centre (PIC). Where CAT is focused on student education, PIC is the first and only NAIT facility that directly serves industry clients. It also hosts events, conferences, and team-building exercises for business and government agencies.

The building鈥檚 atrium is a bright, open meeting space that contains the 4×4 Barco UniSee wall that meets NAIT鈥檚 requirements for a seamless video wall image. Community Entasys line arrays provide high-quality sound for the atrium, and the entire system is once again controlled by an AMX control system.

The PIC building provides a high-end experience during events that may include anywhere from 20 to 400-people. It also offers industry-leading corporate training and applied research opportunities. For all of those reasons, PIC needs high-impact technology so that presenters and teachers are easily seen and heard by attendees and learners.

鈥淎 lot of the equipment is geared toward specific industries,鈥 says Tyler. 鈥淲e have to meet their needs and allow them to train in proper ways.鈥

Simulation Technology Trains Students for Disaster Response

Within PIC is the Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management (CADEM). Industry professionals use the CADEM lab and its simulation technology to learn best practices and train municipalities and other focus groups for the emergency management of disasters like floods and wildfires. It鈥檚 also an active control room for emergency events.

Powering CADEM鈥檚 experience are AMX control systems, including a 22鈥 wide-format touch panel found in the control room. Using this system, instructors send relevant information to multiple displays,聽cameras, and audio devices within the room. Sharp interactive 4K monitors, installed both as touch tables as well as wall-mounted displays, are provided at various stations throughout the space. A 5×2 NEC video wall is at the heart of the CADEM workspace, providing a main display that can replicate the images shown on the touch tables.

A separate control room allows for monitoring and control of the space, and two breakout/debrief rooms are connected via the AV system to allow for discussion to operators and participants during and after the simulation session.

Finally, a Crestron NVX distribution system provides interconnectivity for all AV signals between the various areas and stations for CADEM, with over 50 NVX endpoints connected to allow for maximum flexibility and routing of the signals.

Challenges are always a part of every project, and with one of this scale, the main challenge was time. Sometimes construction delays or inclement weather would add to the pressure, but 果冻传媒鈥檚 team came through to meet the deadline.

鈥淓very time we鈥檝e worked with 果冻传媒 they鈥檝e been able to overcome those challenges, whether it鈥檚 bringing on more staff or working overtime,鈥 says Tyler. 鈥湽炒 is the highest quality company we鈥檝e worked with here at NAIT.鈥

Well after integration, 果冻传媒 continues to support the entire CAT building and be the first to respond to any technology issues.

鈥湽炒 is fantastic with their service,鈥 says Tyler. 鈥淚f we have a piece of equipment go down in a room, we can pick up the phone and they鈥檝e got a product being shipped that day. I couldn鈥檛 have better support.鈥

Training for real-world situations

鈥淎 lot of the equipment is geared toward specific industries. We have to meet their needs and allow them to train in proper ways.鈥

Jason Tyler
Audio-visual technician, NAIT

Impact:聽An energy unlike any other

When the CAT building first opened, it was the first academic space on campus where students from different schools could interact. And based on their reaction, it was one they鈥檇 been waiting for.

鈥淭here was an energy in this space that was unlike any I鈥檝e seen on campus,鈥 says Hicks.

That kind of positive engagement extends to the classrooms, where the combination of solutions gives the instructors an extra level of interaction with students. Students connect with their devices and interact with what the instructors are doing from the podium or lectern.

鈥淭hey鈥檝e had a great response to the classroom technology,鈥 says Hicks. 鈥淥ur instructors are achieving things they didn鈥檛 think they could do, especially when it comes to student engagement.鈥

Over at the Productivity Innovation Centre, NAIT is meeting its mandate to meet the needs of industry.

鈥淲ith the CADEM, we鈥檝e become the largest and best emergency management lab in Canada,鈥 says Tyler. 鈥淲e鈥檝e had multiple industry professionals come in and say they鈥檝e been blown away by the technology.鈥

Clients can use PIC and its services for applied research and training sessions, as well as events like parties and senior leadership meetings.

With the addition of the new technology, students are getting the kind of hands-on preparation that pays off in real circumstances.

鈥淪tudents will come back to us after their clinical rotation and say, 鈥楻emember that simulation we did? Well, the next week I experienced exactly that,鈥欌 says Werstiuk. 鈥淚t鈥檚 exciting to be able to put students through experiences they can鈥檛 get anywhere else.鈥

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