Focus on OIT

ECIT Assists on Major NSF Grant

The Vidyo system allows eight people to be on the screen at once. (photo courtesy of H. Davies)

Emory recently received a $20 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) grant for the Chemistry Department's CCI Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF). The grant was awarded in part because the project boasts collaboration between a total of 25 scientists from 15 universities, representing the most comprehensive group of top experts in C-H functionalization ever assembled. The collaboration is made possible through the Vidyo Desktop System at the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT).

"The ECIT videoconference facility had a huge impact on our ability to build the momentum needed to land this grant," said Huw Davies, professor of chemistry at Emory and the director of the CCHF. The Vidyo Desktop System allows up to 50 connections at any given time and manages an environment with as many as eight different speakers at one time, enabling face-to-face conferencing like never before.

The CCHF has been using ECIT-217 for the last three years. They had been collaborating with three other universities using XMeeting, but needed a more powerful conferencing system. Vidyo was the perfect candidate for them. Since January, researchers from 15 universities have collaborated using the software. Meeting weekly, a total of 25-30 group members participate at a time.

The CCHF group relies primarily on face-to-face conferencing as well as sharing PowerPoint documents based on the work they are doing. They usually have 90-minute to 2-hour meetings and at any given time they have 15-16 people in each video conference.

Even though up to 50 connections can be made at once, the Vidyo screen shows the video feeds of up to eight other people at a time. If you are quiet for a while, your video goes out of view. As each person speaks up their video pops up.

The ECIT Video Services Team is continually working to improve the processes. Non-Emory people are allowed to use facility, but this requires sponsored LDAP accounts via request tickets. Jason Brewer and Greg Hall (both from Class Tech in Academic Technology Services) also sit in on CCHF the meetings to assist the researchers if they have any IT problems.

The Video Services Team is led by Brenda Rockswold (Academic Technology Services). Ryan Roberts (Academic Technology Services) has also provided his expertise on the project.

"I think that there are many tools out there, but they are very happy with Vidyo. The video desktop tool has helped them tremendously and is simple to use," said Brenda. "We look forward to more collaboration down the road."