Posted on March 3, 2015 in ATSC News
Nick Whims is studying computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park and will graduate in May 2016.
As the ATSC’s intern, Whims says he “hopes to gain insight into the technical world of television broadcasting as a potential career field. By participating in meetings and email collaboration, I’m beginning to gain some understanding about exactly how much effort is required for so many companies with differing interests to come together for the express purpose of accomplishing a common goal.” One recent assignment was a trip to the PBS Technology Center in Springfield, Virginia.
By NICK WHIMS, ATSC Intern
I made the trek out to the PBS Technology Center and was given the grand tour. After getting a bit lost (a fine start to any day), I was rescued by Phil Schoene who welcomed me and escorted me upstairs to be introduced to Andy Butler. Andy was kind enough to use up a considerable amount of his valuable time showing me around the facility. We left no rock unturned…
From the giant fans cooling their computer systems to the mainframe racks with spools of hanging wire, I saw it all. Engineers and specialists were recruited to contribute to my education — be it on NRT, IP expansion, or multiplexing. By the end, my mind was well fed!
The jewel of the presentation was the control room. The massive displays drew me out of the semi-darkness and into their phosphorescent glow. Here are the multiple (because redundancy is the name of the game, as I was quick to learn) control panels which are constantly manned should an error with the automated system occur. These panels monitor and control the satellite uplinks and signal distribution except in an emergency (most typically, bad weather) when control can be handed off or remotely handled in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I was surprised to note that there was no production studio. PBS does not produce its own programs but contracts production out to its member stations who, in turn, can produce their own programs and then shows are scheduled on the PBS broadcast schedule.
As a software engineering student, seeing the broadcasting side of ATSC membership was enlightening. Now I can better understand what’s at stake for companies with so much technology in use which must adapt to provide a higher quality consumer experience.
Posted in ATSC News
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