The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) elevates aviation education in the new wing of their Oshkosh facility. The two-story facility is an addition to the iconic Eagle Hangar. It boasts an innovative Pilot Proficiency Center, a hands-on Youth Education Center, and corporate events space.
Arrow AV Group worked with the EAA team to design the audiovisual systems throughout the new spaces. Accommodating tight deadlines and backordered equipment, Arrow was able to execute a functioning system in time for EAA’s biggest event of the year: AirVenture.
The current building is going on 40 years of use but was not designed to keep up with current technology trends. With the new addition, EAA had a blank canvas of 30,000 sq ft. The EAA team took the time to check their long term needs. “What do we need? What would be state of the art? Not just now but for a decade in the future?” said Dick Knapinski, Director of Communications at EAA, about the early stages of the project. Here’s where the team landed:
Ultimately, the new space needed be simple to use. “I think the idea is really for the technology to not get in the way,” said Robert Molash, AV director at EAA. “For the technology to be just simple and intuitive.”
Arrow AV Group designed the audiovisual systems for the two-story space with a focus on simplicity to meet all EAA’s goals.
On the second floor is the hands-on Youth Education Center. The main area hosts three Panasonic laser projectors paired with 137” ambient light rejecting projection screens from DaLite. The screens enable presentations for large groups or the space can divide into three breakout rooms. Video inputs, video volume, and microphone controls are all controlled from 7” touch screens in each room.
On the other side are five tactile classrooms for hands on learning. These range from discovering electronics to plane fabrication. Mixing digital and analog, each room has a digital signage display outside the front door and a traditional sign explaining what’s in the room.
One room to highlight is the wind tunnel classroom. Here, students can simulate airplane designs to see how aerodynamic it is. Marshall mini cameras capture the wind tunnel action for recording or live viewing from other classrooms! The cameras capture a top down view and a side view but students can still view inside the wind tunnel through an integral window.
Broadcasting and streaming of video is possible from any room in the new facility, including from the wind tunnel. More guests than could fit in one room can now be part of the action through overflow viewing. If a classroom across the country wants to learn about aviation, EAA can now live stream the demonstrations and lessons for all to learn.
“The education technology we put in place is so vital because we can reach out to classrooms,” said Dick Knapinski. “Many times teachers want to include aviation in their curriculum, but there’s no local resource to do it. This way, we can bring the classroom to them.”
Near the stairs on both floors is a digital donor wall. Each wall lists all the donors who helped make the new facility a reality and shifts content to showcase individual donors.
Neighboring the donor wall upstairs is a four panel portrait video wall to exhibit The Adventures of Aviore. Aviore is a comic EAA and Marvel (yes, that Marvel!) collaborated on to get kids excited about aviation.
Downstairs in the lobby, digital signage welcomes school groups, trainees, and corporate guests. The first floor also hosts REDBIRD flight simulators, two small conference rooms, and a larger events space.
The events space splits into three smaller rooms to accommodate for groups of any size. The projection is from Panasonic, displays from Samsung, overhead audio from SoundTube, and wireless microphones from Shure. All the technology automatically reconfigures control when staff install temporary airwalls. This way, untrained users can independently control each room.
In the rack room, a Crestron PRO3 processor paired with a QSC Core 110F control the entire facility. The brains behind the digital signage are several 4K Brightsign players. A Middle Atlantic rack houses all the equipment which is safeguarded by SurgeX surge protectors. A TVOne CORIOmaster drives the video distribution paired with Visionary Solutions AV-over-IP
The final piece of the puzzle? Putting it all together with only a five to six month lead time from brainstorm to install. “It was pretty dicey getting that order in so late,” said Robert Molash. “But the Arrow team bent over backwards to get everything in and at least get the system operational. We had to wait for some parts afterwards but we got it working for Airventure!” Designs pivoted with equipment availability but system functionality stayed the same as initially envision: simple to use technology to train, educate, and inspire all ages.
With everything installed and final checks made, the new education center at EAA is ready for takeoff! Stop by at AirVenture this summer and see it for yourself.
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