Thursday, October 7, 2010

CMU likes whiteboards

Ok, dry erase boards, grease boards, windows (for Chelsea)... whatever you want to call them, there are a ton of them here at CMU. I think the thing that motivated me to comment on this was walking around the Gates building, where I noticed two people in a heated discussion while sitting at a table. They had all of their food pushed to the side, and in the middle was a ton of red scribbles on the shiny white surface. Awesome. I want one. I may have to start giving things like this out at christmas gifts.

So the Gates center (yes, named after Bill Gates, who gave an exorbitant amount of money, $20 million, to CMU) is fairly new, like only a few years old. Yep, according to Wikipedia it was completed August of '09. The outside is rather interesting, and the inside is even more of an architectural work of art. On the main floors (3-5) there is a giant spiral ramp that slowly works its way around a rather large open area that spans all 3 floors. I cannot really do it justice...

Anyway, this is about whiteboards. In the main computer cluster (aka Lab), is in a ovular room, that is completely covered in whiteboards, there is only a 7 foot section that is not whiteboard. Now when I say whiteboard, I am not talking about the 3 or 4 foot, framed, replacement for a chalk board, I am talking instead of using drywall, they used whiteboard wood. So there is writing space from floor to about 12 feet up (and yes there is writing 12 feet up). Everywhere else in Gates, where there is an opportunity of a "collaborative space" there is at least a 5 to 7 foot whiteboard wall. Chelsea, you would love it. All of the classrooms have the same thing. This does lead to some interesting situations, at one point my Computational photography professor was getting really excited, and decided to move over to what he thought was a continuation of the 40 or so fool long whiteboard. Alas, he was wrong, he moved on to one of the only dry wall panels in the room and left a rather long dry erase mark, that is now smeared after he tried to rub it off...

In other areas of campus they are not as whiteboard savvy. However in all of the lecture halls with the really intimidating 3 layered rolling chalk boards (Ha, Mom, just like you remember), they have installed whiteboards behind the chalk boards so professors can use whatever they prefer. As certain areas of campus are being renovated, they are upgrading to this "Whole wall" whiteboard idea... it is rather interesting.


  1. I am so jealous. And yes, you could give me a whiteboard top to my desk at school. Or at home. Or maybe for the kitchen table as well. I would be ok with that. :) Awesome!

    Yeah, I've had professors accidentally write on walls or screens thinking they were whiteboards. Silly people. But now I'm dreaming of whiteboarding my classroom... that would be so cool!

  2. I still sit in meetings where people correct me when I say "chalkboard" and tell me "Whiteboard" and I correct them and say "No, I write on my CHALKboard" and they are amazed that is what I have to use. Travis Franklin found whiteboard paint and painted over his chalkboard and made it a white board (actually a great idea as it is still magnetic this way).

    I certainly have schema and a strong visual image of professors and those layered boards from my time at Irvine where prof kept writing on the wall... and of a student writing on my screen. Thanks for the fun memories!

    If you don't want a room covered in white board, I have heard of a guy who painted his car in chalkboard paint so he could decorate it... maybe you could use Travis' whiteboard paint and do your car!!!

  3. Wow, this is amazing! CU still has only chalkboards in their engineering building...we are behind the times.

  4. Remember our famous white board at Jr. Miss. We bought that 4' X 8' sheet at home Depot for less than $10. Those "framed" boards are way too expensive. Something "new" that I came to find out is that there are dry and wet erase marking pens. What a neat idea. Now if you wanted to create a grid that you could use over and over you need only use the wet erase pen to make the grid and use the dry erase to enter the information. Now, you simply use a dry erase and the temporary data can be erased without disturbing the grid. When you want to get rid of the grid, simply use a wet eraser and it is gone. This is as great as EXCEL spreadsheets.