Wake Tech Prepares Students for Potential Careers at Epic Games With New Extron-Powered Esports Venue

wake tech

Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech) in Raleigh, North Carolina was one of the first higher learning institutions in the state to establish an esports program to complement its Simulation and Game Development academic degree track. Wake Tech’s IT/AV staff worked with Raleigh-based ProAV integrator Strategic Connections to upgrade and repurpose existing AV systems in a divisible classroom on the Southern Wake campus. Strategic Connections’ efforts transformed the space into a state-of-the-art 14-seat “home field” esports arena for the Wake Tech Eagles varsity team. Extron AV switching, distribution, control and audio products were selected for the project.

“To get the esports venues up and running, we needed to create an infrastructure that was cost-effective and easily scalable for future growth,” says Jennifer Unitis, Wake Tech associate director of academic technologies. “Our in-house AV team initially built the esports venue AV systems with Extron equipment that we had on hand. As the esports program grew, we upgraded to newer Extron equipment with help from ProAV integrator Strategic Connections. This was a winning strategy for the AV team and the esports teams.”

08 Esports Team

Adopting a “build it and they will come” vision, Wake Tech’s AV, IT and Athletics departments collaborated to design and build the esports arena in an existing classroom. The school’s esports teams use high-performance gaming PCs running OBS Studio to livestream to Twitch during intercollegiate tournament competitions. Initially, the existing teaching lectern AV system components were pressed into service for gaming. As the esports program grew, the AV system was modernized and upgraded with the latest Extron components. A DXP 88 HD 4K PLUS matrix switcher is at the heart of the AV system, connecting AV gaming content from PCs and gaming consoles to 55″ spectator viewing displays. An XPA 2001 200-watt amplifier delivers “powerful” gaming audio. An IPCP Pro 250 xi control processor and a 7″ TouchLink Pro touchpanel provide automatic and manual control of the AV system.

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05 Primary Equipment Rack

Unitis and End User Support Analyst William Reed executed the vision of Brian Anweiler, dean of student activities and athletics to design and build the esports arena AV system within an existing divisible classroom. The bulk of the budget went to outfitting the player stations with high-end gaming PCs, peripherals, gaming chairs and other equipment that an esports team must have to seriously compete and win. Unitis and Reed got creative to make the best use of the remaining budget to assemble an AV system that met the high expectations of esports players and audiences. The esports AV system started out modestly with AV gear scavenged from the existing instructor lectern. Reed used knowledge gained through Extron certification training, coupled with daily hands-on experience installing and maintaining AV systems all over campus, to design and build the first iteration of the Esports AV system on his own. Later, ProAV integrator Strategic Connections was brought in to modernize and upgrade the AV system with the latest Extron components.

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