Boeing Wireless Classroom grand opening

With its goal of helping to prepare today’s students for success in the future, the Boeing Wireless Classroom will be filled with Washington State University students, faculty and invited special guests at its official “grand opening” at 10 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 25) in Todd Hall, Room 105.

“This high-tech, highest-quality facility positions WSU to set the standard for the type of classroom that fosters innovative and effective teaching and relevant learning for its students, who are the business leaders of the tomorrow,” said College of Business and Economics Dean Len Jessup. “The feedback we are receiving from the professors and students who are using the classroom today is extremely positive. We will celebrate the Boeing Wireless Classroom’s success, and the vision of those who made it possible, at this grand opening.”

Honored guests at the event will include WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, Provost Robert C. Bates and business alumnus Scott Carson, president of Connexion by Boeing. Carson guided the effort that led to the Boeing Co.’s spring 2002 gift of $99,000, which launched the Boeing Wireless Classroom project.

Plans call for a demonstration of the satellite-based wireless technology at the Saturday even — the same technology that will be used for the Connexion by Boeing in-flight connectivity service for airline passengers to be launched in 2004.

“With guests gathered in the Boeing Wireless Classroom in Pullman, we will videoconference to the room live, via satellite, from Boeing Field,” Carson said. “The type of in-flight communications service available on our Connexion One testbed aircraft is a great technology to feature in the Boeing Wireless Classroom.

“As students today are so comfortable with this wireless technology, the classroom will reinforce that comfort level. As those students move into the workforce of the future, working in a wireless environment will be second nature to them. And, what a perfect thing to offer wireless communications in commercial airplanes, as they become the business travelers of tomorrow.”

In a project driven by the unified vision of Carson and Jessup, the classroom began to take shape in fall 2002 following a summer of planning. A Todd Hall computer lab was gutted to bare floors and walls, then painted in Cougar crimson and gray. Two giant screens cover the wall at one end of the room, where they are used to display images from ceiling mounted projectors. Images also appear on the opposing wall on a digital whiteboard.

“Students and professors use the room’s wireless laptop computers to send instructions to the projectors. They can see a videoconference on one screen, project a Power Point presentation on another, and reference a Web site on the third, for example,” Jessup said. “The possibilities are virtually limitless.”

The technology and the ways it is used in the room aren’t the only things unique about the Boeing Wireless Classroom. The furniture consists of moveable leather-covered sofas, low-slung chairs, glass-topped coffee tables and a boardroom table. The floor is carpeted and surround-sound speakers are mounted on walls. There are no podiums or lecture stands.All this reinforces the styles of teaching and learning found in the room.

Since the first students used the room in January (when the paint was literally still wet on the walls), classes from many disciplines have drawn curious and sometimes tentative students.

Everything from graduate classes in accounting to undergraduate classes in operations management and management information systems have been offered in the classroom.

“We are sure that many students sign up for a certain course and professor so they can experience the ‘Boeing Wireless Classroom of the Future,'” said Jessup.

Professors who teach there, and their students, must be prepared to embrace active styles of teaching and learning, with plenty of teamwork and collaboration. Jessup challenged other WSU faculty to re-engineer their courses so they could teach in the new room, which is featured on campus tours for prospective and new students as well as VIPs.

The Saturday (Oct. 25) morning grand opening is open to the public. A reception will follow in the nearby building atrium. There, the new James C. Nelson Gallery of Excellence will feature photos documenting the evolution of the Boeing Wireless Classroom on 14 wall-mounted plasma screens.

For more information, see the CBE Web site at