Friday, April 20, 2012

Grossmont College A-V tech in the spotlight

Dave Steinmetz, Grossmont College instructional media services coordinator, receives his award from well-wishers, including Chancellor Cindy L. Miles (second from right) and Classified Senate President Wendy Corbin (in hat). 

Grossmont College’s go-to person for installing and servicing the audio-visual equipment in some 150  classrooms says his work is “no big deal,” but when the gremlins are up to no good, that’s when Dave Steinmetz is at his best.
The instructional media services coordinator, low-key and unflappable, calmly assesses the problem, typically declares it’s a “piece of cake,” and performs his magic. Voila -- the technical glitch is fixed and the harried instructor is once again able to bring lesson plans to life with audio and video.
His dependability and reassuring ways were applauded at this week’s Governing Board meeting, where he was honored as the latest recipient of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor/Classified Senate Award, a commendation presented quarterly to outstanding staff.
“The excellent technology support and services he provides allows faculty to concentrate on their work in the classroom knowing Dave and his crew will be there,” said Kerry Kilber, the college’s dean of Learning and Technology Resources and award nominator.  “Dave is always approachable, positive and has a wonderful attitude that stems from a strong customer service viewpoint. He has earned a high level of trust and respect from his colleagues on campus and it is well-deserved.”
Almost embarrassed by the attention the award has brought him – a conga line of well-wishers had personally delivered the news to him earlier in the week about his selection – Steinmetz downplays his skill as the A-V fixit man, saying he’s been fiddling with technical gadgets from the time he was little. When it came to making the TV work or hooking up the cable box back home, the Steinmetz kid was the one for the job.
After graduating from Crawford High School in Rolando in San Diego’s mid-city, he began taking classes at Grossmont College in 1992. He was hired as a student worker the same year in the instructional media office, initially handling menial jobs like delivering videotapes to classrooms, but it wasn’t long after he began tackling more demanding work. Except for a year he took off for classes at San Diego State University, Steinmetz has remained at Grossmont College, taking over as the office coordinator in 2008.
These days, with a lot of troubleshooting done remotely from a computer, Steinmetz said many repairs don’t even require going into classrooms. Not so in earlier years, he said, recalling the occasions he was called in to do a hasty splicing whenever a movie projector’s 16-mm film needed repair.
His most memorable work-related experience? Not some complex setup for a big college affair as one might expect, but one that involved a black and white issue that left unaddressed, was sure to raise a big stink.
It was late in the day and the work crew was gathered together having a pizza when a skunk was spotted wandering into one office. Quickly closing the front door to keep the unwelcome visitor from escaping further into the building, Steinmetz managed to pry open a back window enough to unlock the office’s back door and enticed the critter to follow a trail of Little Caesar’s Crazy Breadsticks leading outdoors.
Piece of cake, or in this case, piece of bread.
With a keen understanding of technology needs campuswide, Steinmetz has been the point man for input on the placement and installation of instructional media equipment in the college’s newest buildings.
District Chancellor Cindy L. Miles noted that Steinmetz’s input and expertise have proven indispensable to architects, project managers and construction crews, as Grossmont College’s instructional media demands have escalated with the bond-funded construction of new facilities and upgrading of existing buildings to meet today’s high-tech standards.
 “His work behind the scenes has helped save the district precious resources by reaching out to all involved with construction to address concerns in advance, thus avoiding future costly repairs and support issues,” she said.
A recent challenge was last weekend’s community open house that drew thousands to Grossmont College to celebrate the campus’ 50th anniversary. As the department  in charge of preparing the audio-visual equipment at all campus events, big or small, Steinmetz and his office crew were under the gun, setting up for the numerous activities that were going on simultaneously throughout the campus.
The new technology in the remodeled student center, such as the digital signage system, the audio pipe-through and the multi-screen videogame consoles, is an ongoing issue facing Steinmetz. A first-ever videogame tournament was a hit at the open house, judging from the many young gamers lined up to get their turn on the controllers.
As usual, Steinmetz downplays his part in making sure the tournament went smoothly.
“Oh, I just pointed to where to plug in the power cords,” he said.