Flexible Tech for a Fresh Future

July 1, 2008

In a collaborative effort led by architecture and design firm Fuller and D'Angelo of Elmsford, NY, the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering, (AITE) Library Media Center was created. The firm's goal was to design a futuristic school that would encourage students to think of not only how, but why. The philosophy of the school challenges students and encourages them to see and think outside the box. AltieriSeborWieber (mechanical engineers), Nachman Engineering (structural engineers), and CCR Pyramid (information technology) were also involved with the project.

ALL PHOTOS: Joseph Fuller of Fuller and D'Angelo P.C.

The AITE Library Media Center serves as the focal point for all information literacy and problem solving instruction in the school. Its mission is to ensure that all students become independent, self-directed, skillful, and discriminating users and communicators of ideas and information.

Says Joseph Fuller, "All of this is done with efficiency and state-of-the-art technologies as well as energy-saving, environmentally sound design. For example, a thermal and ice storage system harvests and stores energy during low-demand evening hours and releases the energy for use during the day. Energy consumption is further lessened by the use of sun shading devices on the large window systems. These measures allow considerable funding and power to be saved.

Advanced materials, such as ground face insulated block, aluminum curtain wall system with high performance glass, insulated metal panels, and a 60-foot-diameter translucent dome over the media center and teacher work room, also help to ensure energy efficiency.

According to Phil Steiner of AltieriSeborWieber LLC (ASW) Norwalk, Connecticut, consulting engineers for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection, "Ductwork and conduit piping are deliberately and neatly exposed to allow students visual access to the bones of the building." Walking through the school through the exposed interior structure gives each student an appreciation and an understanding of how buildings are constructed. Students can learn about wind power in physics class by going to the roof of their school.

According to Michael Kerwin of CCR pyramid, the information and technology consultant, "Every section of the building can be used as a teaching area. Movable lecterns, wireless technology, shared overhead projectors, and much more allow students and teachers to collaborate on many projects. Additionally, the atrium can be used for recreation or instruction." A large, 10-foot by 18-foot screen and audio allow both the students and the teachers an opportunity to broadcast or view many assignments or events. When not used, the screen becomes part of the building.

The most current zoned wireless system, a fiber-optic ring, eChalk boards, and shared print and laptop storage/recharge drawers are just a few more examples of the cutting-edge technology available to the staff and students at AITE.

Teachers' lessons are taught from their laptop tablets, which connect to the lectern's docking station and boot through to the document reader, DVD player, and classroom projector. The lesson can then be taught by writing over items on the tablet and/or also "clicking" from page to page via the control to the projector. A secondary podium allows students to plug into the projector and show their homework or presentations to the rest of the class.

A wide range of resources in a variety of formats is available from within and outside the school. The print collections include reference books, nonfiction and fiction books, newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines in print. Also included in the media center are video and audio cassettes, slides, and the latest high-speed access to "cyber-world." The facility functions as an information center for the school and offers to all students and staff a mixed environment, some conducive to quiet study as well as active teaching and learning. A cyber café is also included - a traditional space within the school.

By living in, learning in, and discovering their environment together, AITE students gain a strong foundation in their common education along with architecture, engineering, and information technology. No doubt, AITE graduates will be ready to design for tomorrow's environmental and energy challenges.

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