USF students will soon be able to check out aerial drones from campus library

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Starting fall 2014, books will not be the only learning tools available at the newly renovated first floor of the University of South Florida Tampa Library.

USF students will soon be able to check out high-tech drones — for aerial photography, of course.

The school’s drone program will be part of  a major library remodel, designed to make it a “modern and practical space for students to achieve academic success,” reports Helen Bierko of USF News.

Renovations became necessary to meet the needs of students looking for advanced technology — like airborne drones — to support research and coursework, according to of USF Libraries Dean William Garrison.

“After the Smart Lab was created on the second floor, we saw use of the building explode,” Garrison said in an interview.” The success of the second floor’s added technology and computers have inspired a similar theme for the first floor of the building.”

Some of the features on the library’s new first floor include functional furniture for a more productive study atmosphere. Round tables, which resemble the ones currently used in the USF Smart Lab, replace the wooden cubicles, currently on the west side of the ground floor. That change alone will accommodate and additional 50 computers.

Center tables, running along a half wall, will have translucent glass dividers for privacy. Electric outlets will be at each table for charging electronic devices. The first floor bathrooms will also be revamped.

Other changes include an expanded “Digital Media Commons,” replacing the Writing Center on the first floor, which will relocate to the second floor.

Students in the Digital Commons can collaborate on projects with the aid of USF’s high-end computers and software, as well as check out the latest in video equipment, microphones and drones.

As for checking out the USF aerial drones — small remote controlled aircraft with video capability—required student training is provided in advance, Bierko notes.

Student employees will staff the facility, available to answer questions on technology.

Leading Education Solutions Provider Promethean, whose chair is a USF alum, is donating to the Digital Media Commons two 8-foot computer boards, software and other technology.

Funding for the renovations come from the state’s Capital Improvement Trust Fund, the annual distribution to Florida’s public universities.

“This renovation moves us into a 21st century library,” Garrison said. “We’re able to provide the latest technology to facilitate student learning and success. That’s the key.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.