USF installs Sennheiser ceiling system
Monday, 1 March 2021
floridaMichael Kraus at the University of South Florida
USA - University of South Florida (USF) is a state research university located in the heart of Tampa Bay. With a student population of almost 50,000 students across 14 different colleges, USF prides itself as being at the cutting edge of medicine, science, engineering, the arts and more.
Early last year, USF’s IT team tested and subsequently acquired a Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) system in one of its main conference rooms, moving one step closer to realising its vision of having a microphone in every classroom.
Once the pandemic hit in March of 2020, the USF IT team - and by extension the entire university - was faced with a pressing need to make its vision of implementing a campus-wide, hybrid learning scenario a reality. The Sennheiser TCC2 which had already been installed in one of the campus’ high-profile meeting rooms paved the way for the USF to greenlight a cost-conscious, campus-wide installation of TCC2 across 96 classrooms.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in mid-March, the USF IT team sprang into action to ensure continuity of its classroom offerings: “The very first thing we did was get our entire team together so we could do a full inventory assessment of the campus,” explains Michael Kraus, audio vision engineering & systems, USF IT. “We deployed emergency personnel on campus with PPE to document everything we had, and anything we didn’t have full information on. Did a particular room have a PC and an instructor source? Or just a wall plate? Did it have HDMI, was it analogue?”
By April, the USF IT team had a full assessment of classroom readiness, as well as a complete dashboard of what a hybrid solution might look like. This gave university leadership the information it needed to make a decision.
“We wanted a technology solution that enabled full student participation for both online and in-person,” says Kraus. “Noah [Kessler, technology & systems manager, USF] came up with a design for about 700 rooms of what could be done, how much it would cost, and what it would look like to achieve this new definition of ‘flexible hybrid technology’.”
“We always wanted to be able to mic an entire classroom, but until then didn’t see a solid cost-effective solution,” Kessler explains. “When I saw the Sennheiser TCC2, we were eager to test it with a couple of rooms and experiment. Andrew [Kornstein, customer development & applications engineering, Sennheiser] brought it by and we installed it in one of our conference rooms. During the testing, we walked around the room to evaluate the quality of the microphone before jumping head first into this project. We knew we had a cost-effective solution.”
Once the scope of work and design phases were completed, the physical deployment took just three weeks. Working with the full support from Sennheiser, USF’s team of IT and AV experts engaged integration firm AVI-SPL to assist with the installation.
“Sennheiser means quality when it comes to a microphone in my opinion,” says Kessler. “What really impressed me though is how well the product worked out of the box. Hang and bang, tweak a couple settings and then you are off to the next room. As far as performance, the audio is very clear and I really like the fact that you can create exclusion zones in two dimensions in case you have noise from an HVAC system or something — this is very exciting.”

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