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Shure gives voice to The School of the Future

Published: Sat May 12, 2007  News Feed
Imagine, if you will, what the school of the future may look like. It well may be a place where students do all of their lessons on laptops in a completely wireless building, and teachers break down the dependency on time and place by sharing resources at school with students at home via the Internet. Environmentally friendly as well, the building has facilities to capture and reuse rain water. Textbooks are oh-so-20th-century, and as a further aid to efficiency, administrative functions are handled quickly by a small staff armed with the latest technology.

In Pennsylvania, this vision of tomorrow became reality last September, when the School District of Philadelphia opened The School of the Future at 41st and Parkside Avenues on the west side of town. Today, more than halfway through its first year of operation, the $50 million facility provides education for 170 ninth-graders. Over the next three years, a new ninth-grade will be added each year, giving rise to a complete grades 9-12 environment by 2009.

Outfitted with science labs, universal Internet access, cyber-libraries, and a multimedia auditorium that can be divided into smaller spaces, the school is indeed virtually wireless. Using a blueprint penned by Principal Consultant Felicia Doggett of Philly-based Metropolitan Acoustics, Walter Mosetter of Philadelphia Sound Productions, Inc. brought a comprehensive template of sound reinforcement to the school's auditorium. Relying heavily on wireless systems of its own, the auditorium system met the challenge of performing within an already crowded RF environment with the aid of 20 channels of Shure's new UHF-R wireless.

"Wireless signals saturate every corner in this building," Mosetter relates. "As you can expect with all of the laptop computers in use here, much of our RF is in the 2.40 GHz range, but other bandwidths are well-used too. Another company was hired to manage sound for grand opening ceremonies in the gymnasium, and they couldn't even wake-up a lot of their older wireless systems because of all the interference."

With provisions for providing both handheld and bodypack microphone operation on all of its 20 channels, Mosetter's UHF-R system saved setup time on the project thanks to onboard automatic frequency selection with group scan and infrared automatic transmitter sync.

"Time was of the essence on this project," Mosetter recalls. "This facility went up like an Amish barn building. It seemed as if on one day it existed purely in the imagination, and then, on the next, all the walls were up and students were arriving for class. Like anyone else on the job, we had to keep up with the rapid pace of the schedule. With over 2,400 selectable frequencies automatically selectable across a 60 MHz bandwidth, Shure's UHF-R provided us with plenty of space to work in, and quickly to boot. We haven't had a problem with the system since school opened. The sound is more like a hardwired system than a wireless."

Combining reliability with flexibility, Mosetter's implementation of the Metropolitan Acoustics design also brought a level of management to the auditorium sound system that performs equally as well for everything from simple presentations and lectures to full concert productions.

"It really is built to be everything for everyone who will rely on it," he adds. "Today, and well into tomorrow, we have the room to expand and grow with the needs of the school, plus the performance to reach audiences large and small with clear and intelligible audio. I've heard the school's philosophy described as 'learning anytime, anywhere'. Based upon what we've built here, I'd like to think we did our part to give voice to that notion."
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