MTSU is first telecomm ‘test kitchen’

MTSU is first telecomm ‘test kitchen’

MTSU has partnered with Avaya, a leader in business communications, to create a demonstration lab in the University’s Telecommunications Building to serve as a “test kitchen” for the company’s interactive-communication products.

The lab, which will be located in the second-floor conference room, will be open to students and faculty.

Avaya Systems Engineer Ted Combs demonstrates a touch-screen tablet for voice, video and instant-message conferencing, just one of the cutting-edge communications devices being tested at MTSU. A new lab will open for University use this fall in the second-floor conference room of the Telecommunications Building. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU is the first university in the state to house the Avaya hands-on lab and will be joined by a few additional schools in the southeast as soon as those institutions confirm their participation. Avaya technicians started setting up the lab at MTSU earlier this year, and the equipment will be accessible by fall.

Avaya also will invite outside consumers to the facility for product demonstrations. MTSU has used products by Avaya—previously Lucent Technologies—since 1999 to serve the campus’ voice-communication needs.

“We will be able to get a first look at some of the emerging new technologies that are out there in communications,” said Bruce Petryshak, vice president for MTSU’s Information Technology Division. “This will allow us to see brand-new technology, how it fits the needs of the University and how we might use it. They’re bringing in and installing their newest equipment, and we’re upgrading our existing infrastructure so that we can interface with it.

“MTSU will have the opportunity to experiment with the latest collaboration-enabled technologies, even before they are beta-released,” Petryshak continued. “We will have the ability to experiment and perhaps write some code and see if we can do some customizing using our faculty and staff.”

Deborah Plante, senior systems engineer for Avaya, said the company has “taken the position of being more open-standard, which means that other products are compatible and adaptable. This is what everyone is looking for. Our goal is to be able to show people what the products can do for their business.

“With the collaborative effort here at MTSU, we’re installing our products and allowing MTSU to use the products on campus. We have applications that can be created easily, where students can come in, be creative and get hands-on experience.”

Some of the cutting-edge technology in the lab will include touch-screen tablets with multimodal capabilities, including voice, video and instant-message conferencing.

The drag-and-drop feature will allow the user to hold a video conference with one or two associates and bring additional colleagues into the conversation by simply pulling them from the address book into the screen’s “spotlight.” Participants will be able to drag a document into screen-share, interact, read and make changes in real-time, do whiteboarding, browse a website and perform other tasks.

“Video conferencing is expensive right now,” Plante said. “You have to have a dedicated network and a dedicated room. It takes a long time to set up. Our new video products are meant to be technology that’s easy and quick to use. On the back end, it’s high-tech, but on the front end, it’s user-friendly.”

Plante said the lab will be a secured space, and individuals on- and off-campus will be asked to schedule appointments to use the equipment.

As soon as the other two or three universities in the region are on board as Avaya testing labs, Plante said, they and MTSU can use the communications equipment to interact with each other.

The MTSU campus community will be notified when the demonstration lab is completely set up and ready for use. In the meantime, please watch the video at, which provides an overview of the Avaya products and capabilities.

– Tom Tozer, ttozer@