Beyond the classroom: ISS has deep roots in the Ann Arbor community

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    NTI classroom set up by ISS. (LSA ISS)

LSA Instructional Support Services has a professional staff of 53 full-time employees that strives to provide exceptional and professional support for the integration of new technologies, methods, and content into courses across LSA. ISS is also responsible for the audio/visual, computing, and technology needs of all of LSA’s classrooms, auditoriums, and event spaces, as well as most of LSA’s conference rooms, covering well over 500 facilities.

“Our goal is to help create the best possible teaching and learning experience for LSA faculty and students, and anyone else using our classrooms,” says Monika Dressler, ISS director.

But did you know that ISS goes beyond the classroom to support the Ann Arbor community? Two examples are the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and the National Training Institute.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Since the Top of the Park public movie showings began in 1983, ISS has been an integral part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

“We are really focused on the audience experience,” said Anne Windsor, a media consultant in ISS Operations Technicians. “We prepare in advance so we’re unseen and unknown at the event itself.” Thanks to their preparation, they’ve never lost or had to cancel a show, other than cancellations due to weather before getting a projection booth.

Even though the Top of the Park movies have moved from the parking structure down to North Ingalls Mall, ISS continues to run the movie series. They provide, set up, operate, and tear down the video equipment, and hook into the existing audio equipment there for the live music shows. They also splice in any trailers — sponsor credits, announcements of future events, and so on — that the Ann Arbor Summer Festival provides.

James Carter, programming and operations manager for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, says, “From last minute changes, to strategic thinking about ADA compliance regarding closed captioning, ISS is thoughtful in their support of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival at Top of the Park. The festival’s thankful and proud to have them as part of the team.”

National Training Institute

The National Training Institute (NTI) is a week of training for electricians that offers a variety of education and training opportunities for the electrical industry. The annual event, run by the Electrical Training Alliance and jointly sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), brings in 1,200-2,000 students and is held at the end of July. U-M has hosted the event since 2010.

Because of its size, NTI’s classes are held in up to nine different LSA buildings, including most of the 53 classrooms in Mason Hall, which provide seating for over 1,700 students. ISS puts in over 1,100 hours the week NTI is on campus and works closely with LSA IT Instructional Computing to get everything up and running. Their efforts cover a wide range of both customer and technical support:

  • Connectivity — ISS coordinates with LSA IT and other campus IT groups and units to provide network access as well as hands-on connectivity support for attendees.
  • Classroom set-up & customization — A large part of ISS’s work for NTI is to create an environment in which instructors are able to teach what they need to. This includes adding a lot of extra equipment and cabling, setting up offices with printers and copiers in classrooms, and even reprogramming classroom door locks.
  • Personal assistance — In addition to staffing tables in common hallways, ISS technical staff are on-site to help instructors with tasks such as loading files into room projection systems, performing microphone checks, and other A/V set-up and troubleshooting.

William Orick, Electrical Training Alliance technology coordinator for the NTI, shared, “The National Training Institute is my organization’s Olympic games. There are many moving parts, and it has to go right the first time. There are no second attempts.” He praises ISS staff for being “instrumental in managing the many IT needs to make this event successful year after year” and says the organization is grateful for “the dedication University of Michigan shows to enabling world class education for our students.”

“Over the past ten years, we have made a concerted effort to improve and update LSA classrooms—that includes furniture, facilities, and technology. The NTI has been able to take advantage of our upgrades,” said Dressler. “We used to have to do considerable set up to prepare for their classes: removing furniture and setting up tables, adding computers, speakers, cameras, power cords, and cables. With upgraded classrooms, there is considerably less set up and tear down, and less for them to ship to and from Ann Arbor. Everybody wins.”

Author: Josh Simon, LSA Technology Services

Josh is a member of the Michigan IT Newsletter working group and the Michigan IT Symposium planning committee. He works for LSA Technology Services as a senior systems administrator and communicator. Contact him at