The survival of colleges and universities hangs on delivering a full experience for students in the midst of the global pandemic. With a top priority of keeping students, faculty, employees and visitors safe, engineers are developing striking solutions to help higher education institutions deliver innovative on-campus learning experiences.
Here are three solutions from the engineering world that are helping colleges and universities strike the right balance as the COVID-19 duration is unknown.
1. Fully-Wired Green Spaces (Quads)
In the midst of the current pandemic, colleges and universities have quickly reexamined the optimal redesign of classrooms. The ability to control the flow of students in larger, communal buildings such as libraries and transition to and from classes is important. Expanding Wi-Fi access points outdoors and meeting increasing demand for bandwidth has become timelier and more critical. Engineers who specialize in design-build projects are developing robust, performance-based Wi-Fi solutions for open campus green spaces (quads) as alternate spots where students can “check-in” and register and participate in a virtual class session. These engineers are also equipping temporary, portable modular buildings and outfitting them with Wi-Fi and enterprise network capabilities by utilizing some of the green spaces around campuses to host additional classroom learning experiences.
2. Deploying Beacon and Wayfinding Technology to Help with the Movement of People and Vehicular Traffic
Mobile wayfinding apps and the deployment of Bluetooth beacons enable people to get to their destinations on college campuses indoors and outdoors. Engineers can provide solutions to help track patterns of the movement of people. With the number of people moving around campuses at any given time, the mobile wayfinding solutions help establish immediate pedestrian traffic routing to everything from the exiting of buildings to entering residence halls. Overall, these solutions help mitigate risk by reducing the number of people moving in the same patterns.
For campus facilities personnel, the technology can help provide analytics on utilization rates as certain on-campus facilities can be converted for additional purposes if underutilized.
3. Touchless Technology and Integration
As colleges and universities prepare for the “new normal,” reducing contact transmission is key to providing as safe and clean environment as possible. Engineers have been working to assess current conditions and implement technologies to enable contactless credentials and help ensure a higher level of safety. This includes contactless cards or mobile credentials that are encrypted. Additionally, providing solutions to automatically open doors helps to reduce the number of surfaces touched during the course of each day.
Some universities have already implemented portable thermal kiosks solutions to detect body temperature with accurate results. Engineers can develop customized elevated detection systems that rely on artificial intelligence (AI), thermal imaging and state-of-the-art-video surveillance. These solutions can be implemented in different parts of college campuses, including dining halls, libraries, stadiums and theaters.