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Anatomy of an Install

Jul 9, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

Vanderbilt University’s anatomy lab reaches new heights.


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At the 27 student workstations, students are able to bring their custom Hy-Tek touchscreen monitors with onboard computers to the height needed during their exercises. Students can directly annotate their course materials as they work with the touchscreens and save their work to thumb drives via USB ports at the bases of the monitors.

At the 27 student workstations, students are able to bring their custom Hy-Tek touchscreen monitors with onboard computers to the height needed during their exercises. Students can directly annotate their course materials as they work with the touchscreens and save their work to thumb drives via USB ports at the bases of the monitors.

Interactive anatomy lessons

The new 37in. student LCD touchscreens are able to withstand corrosive chemicals, and because students don’t need a keyboard, those chemicals won’t get inside the unit the way they had when using laptops. (And clean-up is easy: Students just have to spray and wipe the screens down.) The touchscreens also feature an onboard computer so students can log into the school’s system. From there, via eBeam Interact software, students are able turn their workstations’ surgical lights on or off, annotate materials, and save their work. The bases of the touchscreens house USB ports that allow students to save annotated materials to thumb drives. The system also provides the school with a log of students who are coming and going since the lab is open almost around the clock.

Having the onboard computer on the touchscreens provided the school’s architects with something they hadn’t foreseen: extra space. In the original design specs, the architects had provided a roughly 8’x10’ space for a computer farm that the monitors would network back to. Freeing up this space allowed the architects to reallocate it as a changing room, which they had left out because of space constraints. Instead of using a large, dedicated control room, Technical Innovation was able to run everything back to a small IT closet.

“Everything is a network appliance now,” Clark says. “Everything has a LAN jack on it to control it, look at it, see what it’s doing, so the big thing is we had to work with the network people. So what happened is we lost this big room that was going to be the computer farm, and all they needed now was a place for their network to come in, which was a small closet. So what we were able to do is ask them for some rack space for our router and our control system because that’s now all we needed.”

Changing the use of this room also changed HVAC requirements. Had the monitors been snaking back to a computer farm, a cooling system would have been essential. Because the lab has to be kept at a constant temperature to keep a rein on odor, the room’s existing temperature would be sufficient for keeping the touchscreens’ onboard computers cool as well.

“Of course as part of that equation, I had to start giving them power consumption, BTUs it was going to throw off, and stuff like that because they had the room set up without equipment and now I’m going to put equipment in there, but they were planning for it,” Clark says. “They had to keep this room cool. One degree [difference in] temperature is critical when you’re dealing with bodies.”

The final design plans required collaboration between Vanderbilt architects, the architectural group in Atlanta that the school hired, Clark, and Lee Baker—a Technical Innovation engineer and a key figure in implementing the design. Having established that students would work in a back-and-forth routine and taking into consideration the number of workstations the room would have to fit, Clark decided the monitors would need to be on custom lifts that would allow the students to bring their monitors into place at the heads of their tables—roughly 4ft. from the floor—during class at the touch of button. Then when the students were done with their exercises, the monitors could be lifted out of the way, about 7ft. up.

The challenge was finding a lift that was sleek, un¬cluttered, and high-tech—all the features the school was after. Clark and the school worked with Display Devices on the design when the initial lift motor was larger than what the school wanted.

“While we were still developing everything, we finally came up with a mounting bracket,” Clark says. “We had them flown in here. Vanderbilt would come look at them. The architect would look at them. They would say, ‘Yes, we like this. No, we don’t like that.’ So it was quite a back-and-forth thing over a period of about a year.”

Weight was another issue. The LCD panel combined with the mount was around 400lbs. The school had commissioned some structural engineers because the lab was on the top floor and because screen alignment was critical. The screens had to line up in three rows of nine stations because the room would have a partitioning system that would separate it into three classes to accommodate a full-capacity class with 27 workstations or smaller classes with nine or 18 workstations. The engineers developed a system of metal plates and attachment points to directly bolt the mounts holding the displays to the building’s steel support beams in the exact locations needed to prevent the screens from obstructing the partitioning system and the lights.





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