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Gepco Brings Elon School of Communications into the Digital Age of HDTV Broadcasting

Elon University’s School of Communications is one of 18 accredited communications programs at private universities in the U.S.
One of the nation’s 18 accredited private university communications programs, the School of Communications at Elon University in North Carolina, received a digital makeover during the summer of 2011. The newly rewired facility brings state-of-the-art high-definition (HD) broadcasting technology to students studying journalism, strategic communications, media arts and entertainment, and communications science.

Elon alumnus Troy Senkiewicz (’98), owner of California-based DigiMax Consulting, donated his time and effort to the project, providing consulting services and securing donated material. “I remember when I was at Elon and someone donated equipment to the studio. We didn’t have much back then, and it meant everything to us to be able to enhance our productions,” recalls Senkiewicz. “It was that access to the latest technology that gave me the education for starting my own business. This project gave me the opportunity to give back to Elon and allow others to do the same.” In fact, Senkiewicz’s television career began when he was hired as an assistant for Elon Student Television.

Senkiewicz selected General Cable’s Gepco® Brand products to be installed in Studios A and B of the McEwen communications building. “I’ve worked with Gepco for more than five years. They manufacture dependable products that have never let me down,” says Senkiewicz. “When the School of Communications opportunity presented itself, I knew the Gepco line would be an ideal match for the needs of the project.”

In the summer of 2011, Elon School of Communications upgraded its two TV studios to full HD capabilities.

The initial meeting regarding the ELON project took place at the 2011 NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show in Las Vegas in April. During this meeting, Mike Murphy, VP Sales, Gepco Brand Products, decided that Gepco needed to be involved in helping to shape the school’s future. Soon after, Joe Zajac, Market Development Manager, Gepco Brand Products, met with Senkiewicz and Christopher Waters, Assistant CIO at Elon, to conduct a walkthrough on campus and determine the scope of the project. “Arriving on campus, I immediately understood why Troy was so passionate about giving back to the university that gave him his start in this industry,” said Zajac. “The campus was beautiful, and the students I encountered at the School of Communications were all so engaged in their work—it was inspiring. I couldn’t wait to get the project started and give them the opportunity to take their work to the next level.”

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Gepco’s custom panels with triax assemblies allowed Elon School of Communications to connect their new cameras in the studio.
The combination of the new cameras and the Gepco products will allow Elon students to learn in an advanced HD environment. Prior to the upgrade, Elon School of Communications students did not have an HD infrastructure to broadcast in HD to and from the studios. “We now have the capability to move HD signals around the campus and back to the studio for live transmission to broadcast outlets,” explains Waters. “With the new technology, our students are poised with the skills to maximize shooting and editing in an HD format.”

For the School of Communications to effectively record and transmit HD video signals, Gepco provided Elon with nearly 1,000 feet of extra-flexible triaxial camera cable along with triax connectors. Another 5,000 feet of Gepco’s superior performing HD video coax cable was installed throughout Studios A and B, as well as new audio cables and 1,000 feet of premium Category 6 cable to connect to the campus network. In addition to the studio and control room upgrades, the University also added some additional optical fiber cable for future expansion. “Cable is one of those non-glamorous components to television production, hidden in the walls and floors. But it’s quite essential for an HD facility,” said Associate Professor Vic Costello, chair of the Faculty Technology Committee for the School of Communications.

Alumnus Troy Senkiewicz ‘98 has worked closely with Gepco to secure material for Elon School of Communications, making possible the transition to HD, tapeless video recording and editing.
Gepco also provided broadcast-grade BNC crimp connectors along with high-definition patch cords and custom video patch panels for patching cameras to video screens in each studio and engineering room. The panels were silkscreened with the Elon name and DigiMax and Gepco logos to pay tribute to the collaborative effort. Due to the very short project schedule, Gepco also pre-terminated many of the cables and shipped them directly to the University to help speed installation. “With classes running into May and then starting up again in September, we had to expedite the process,” said Waters. “The nice thing about this project was that some of our engineering students were able to work on the installation and receive a hands-on education about terminations and signal paths.”

With multiple production classes and a student-produced news program, The School of Communications’ ability to now record in full HD enhances the learning experience and enables students to submit HD video content for various award competitions. Many of the students are amazed at the opportunity to be in an institution where they have access to HD equipment. “In a lot of ways, this project started because of specific needs to deploy HD technology. Through Troy’s relationship with Gepco, he was able to translate our needs into the most cost-effective approach,” said Waters. “This infrastructure has laid the groundwork for an expandable, more sustainable future for the Elon School of Communications.”   PDF


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