Audio Visual Upgrades
AV Sets Sail on the Columbia Point
Audio-Visual (AV) technology upgrades are a constant at UMass Boston and 2022 was no different. There was one project though that was extra special to the Classroom Technology and AV Services department, and that was giving the good ship Columbia Point a stem to stern AV upgrade.
But before updating UMass Boston’s research vessel, AV upgrade projects that Director John Jessoe was planning were being delayed by the nation’s supply chain problems. “We had five classrooms we were going to complete by the end of June and seven rooms in the Integrated Science Complex (ISC),” Jessoe said in early August, before adding that the needed equipment was arriving, and he expected the upgrades would be completed by the end of the Fall semester. John was very excited about the upgrades, especially in the ISC. “We’re going to add hybrid equipment to support hybrid meetings. They’re going to have cameras, microphones, and large screens which allow for hybrid meetings with some people attending in-person while others able to attend and participate remotely.” Besides the classroom and ISC AV upgrades, new sound amplifiers were installed in the performing arts theatre. Then the AV Services team set their sights on the Columbia Point.
The Columbia Point now likely has the most state-of-the-art AV equipment of any boat in Greater Boston. “We put in a new control system with a new touch panel, a new 65-inch TV, new wireless microphones, new speakers, and a new audio receiver,” Jessoe said. “It was a challenge because everything had to be weather rated, especially speakers and such. They’ll be out on a boat in salt water and the AV technology needs to be weather resistant.” Perhaps the most important person on the Columbia Point was thrilled with the result, Jessoe noted. “Captain (Director of Marine Operations) Chris Sweeney is very happy.”
The Columbia Point is a very versatile vessel and serves a variety of purposes on campus. It’s not a tiny fishing boat either. The 64-foot US Coast Guard certified boat can hold up to 110 passengers and sail in all kinds of weather. First and foremost, it is an academic research vessel used by marine biology and other students, but it also hosts K-12 educational programs and marine transportation charters, and at one time the ship performed dredging services, though Jessoe said, “I think that they no longer do that.” But the Columbia Point does do one extremely cool thing that perhaps just a few people at UMass Boston are aware of. “They give narrated tours of Boston Harbor,” Jessoe said.
Yes, they do. The Columbia Point offers several cruises for group bookings. The Boston Inner Harbor Cruise is a two-hour narrated cruise that makes a dramatic turnaround right in front of the USS Constitution, the nation’s oldest commissioned naval warship. This cruise is the most popular the Columbia Point offers, but maybe the most impressive is the Island Adventure. This three-hour excursion tour will go to whatever one of the four harbor islands the booking group selects, whether that’s Spectacle Island, George’s Island, Peddocks Island, or Lovells Island. Finally, in keeping with the university’s educational mission, the Columbia Point offers its Science at Sea tour. This three-hour science tour is designed for student field trips and children of all ages.
Jessoe said there was a fun factor to the Columbia Point AV upgrades, especially after everything was installed and he got to tour the harbor himself to make sure the new equipment was working perfectly. But what makes John and the entire AV Services team most happy is knowing that the AV technology they provide to UMass Boston is always top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art. “We’re constantly upgrading the classrooms and trying to keep our classrooms up to date. We do get compliments for keeping our classroom technology upgraded and that is the way we intend to keep it.”
"We put in a new control system with a new touch panel, a new 65-inch TV, new wireless microphones, new speakers, and a new audio receiver." —John Jessoe, Director of Classroom Technologies & AV Services