Another campus improvement has come to the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center (PHC) in Piney Point, Maryland, and it’s a big one: the state-of-the-art Media Center.
Standing on the site of the old library building, the new multi-function facility contains multiple modern classrooms, high-tech meeting rooms and a brand-new computer lounge. Furthermore, the entire building is equipped with the fastest high-speed Internet available on campus, making it a draw for students looking to complete their classwork or catch up with friends and family. Acting PHC Vice President Tom Orzechowski stated, “With this renovation, the Media Center now becomes the focal point of the campus. It represents a huge investment from the union and trustees, and sets us up for the next 20 years in terms of space. The work was done as part of the overall vision for the school: to bring us into the 21st Century with unfettered Wi-Fi and countless technological advancements that serve to move the school in line with what’s happening in colleges and technical schools across the country.”
The meeting spaces are equipped with a full suite of wireless microphones, allowing anyone in the room to be heard with the push of a button. The classrooms are outfitted with cutting-edge projection systems which allow instructors to use the projectors as electronic whiteboards without the use of an external computer, through the use of digital “markers.”
PHC Assistant Director of Training Wayne Johnson Jr. said, “The technology in the Media Center takes our school to the next level. One example being in the classroom, our interactive Epson Projector’s allow for instructor-controlled digital whiteboards utilizing a built-in camera system, while simultaneously projecting a lesson, also interactive, to students. The whiteboard notes from each lesson can be shared digitally with everyone attending, as well as any notes or updates made by the instructor during the lesson. This creates a seamless experience from classroom time to study time for our students.”
Johnson Jr. continued, “Students have options. If they prefer working on PCs, we have them. If they prefer working with Macs, we have those. A dedicated quiet room is on site to allow students to work in a quiet environment if they prefer. Students also have the ability to ‘check out’ devices provided by the school if they prefer to work on homework in their hotel rooms, or around campus.”
In addition, the building has a much smaller carbon footprint than in years past, because it utilizes energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures and a more efficient, modern HVAC system.
“The Media Center has greatly enhanced the quality of training provided by the instructors,” said PHC Curriculum Coordinator Monica Szepesi. “The improved technology enables an interactive and dynamic delivery of instruction. This allows the SIU to continue to lead the industry in education.”
“It’s a very nice place to come and hang out,” said Chief Cook Abraham Allamot. “You’ve got all these computers out here, some lounging areas, it’s well-lit and the Internet is a lot better. The computers in the computer lab are fast, and the World War II memorial looks beautiful in the center of the room.”
Chief Cook Richetta Jackson remarked, “I like everything about it. The way they changed it is very nice, the computer lab is very nice and well-lit, the computers are very good.… It’s quiet and peaceful, too.”
While the facility is undoubtedly modern, careful attention has been paid to honoring the past. Countless artifacts from throughout the history of the union and the school line the walls and adorn the meeting rooms, preserving the rich maritime history. In addition, a touchscreen pedestal computer is centrally located within the Media Center, containing a wealth of information on the history of the industry and the SIU.
Serving as a focal point of the Media Center is a collection of merchant mariner posters from World War II, as well as a miniature version of a sculpture created by Wilmington, California, sculptor Jasper D’Ambrosi. The original statue, which depicts two merchant mariners climbing a Jacob’s ladder after making a rescue at sea, is part of the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial in San Pedro, California.
“I’m very impressed with the new media center,” said Chief Cook Virnabeth Cano. “It’s very spacious, quiet, very conducive to study and I love the place. I was very impressed, it’s a big difference from what it was before.”
“Everything in the media center is excellent and updated,” said Storekeeper Randy Corey. “The people over there are very nice, and it’s actually just a beautiful sight to see. It’s money well spent, and it’s being used to help us [the members] grow.”