Topics: College of Architecture and Planning, Emerging Media

April 10, 2009

A student from the College of Architecture and Planning uses an interactive plasma screen to present his work. The college used internal grant funding to purchase six of the screens, which are used to display design projects for review.
 Ball State University's College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is using the innovation of interactive plasma screens in addition to paper and pencil to aid students in immediate, large-sized illustrations of their ideas.

With about $100,000 in internal grant funding, CAP developed and deployed six 62-inch plasma flat screens to occupy design and planning studios. The plasma screens have interactive overlays and can be used to display design projects for review. The drawings can be uploaded to the digital screen, allowing students to forgo plotters, which use paper and ink and can take a long time to print.

The interactive flat screen technology is an innovation most large architecture firms have yet to employ. The fact Ball State has six of the screens – while most schools using them have only one, if any – is a testament to CAP's mission of providing its students with state-of-the-art materials and opportunities in the field.

"They show that we are able to influence the profession and offer students and the industry cutting-edge ideas," said Guillermo Vasquez de Velasco, dean of the College of Architecture and Planning.

Vasquez de Velasco said the added benefit of the plasma screens is that their use allows students to save a substantial amount of money, which limits the amount of printing costs. At the same time, the screens are a more eco-friendly alternative to paper drawings. "This is a good practice in times of economic shortness and sustainability needs," he said.

The plasma screens work "like a combination of a white board and a computer screen," Vasquez de Velasco said. They can be checked out and used in studios in the Architecture Building for different purposes. Students can draw on the interactive membranes with electronic ink without marking up the original product, a technology that companies such as CNN use on their programs.

BSA Life Structures, a design firm in Indianapolis, recently participated in student design reviews using CAP's plasma screens. The firm is now interested in obtaining its own.

"The screens are proving to be a great teaching and learning tool for the college," Vasquez de Velasco said.

By Alyssa Brumback