Teaching the Next Generation of AV Pros—On Campus
Newly certified UNH AV specialist Kaetryn Williams-Barnard, CTS, passes the baton to her students in hopes of igniting their interest in a career in AV.
When Kaetryn Williams-Barnard, CTS, returned to her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, she didn’t envision herself one day working in the field of AV. But, although her degree was in kinesiology and experiential outdoor education, she found herself drawn more toward technology and piqued by job postings in the field of AV and IT.
Now, as part of the university’s learning space technologies team working in IT and AV support services, Williams-Barnard is immersed in coordinating and supporting AV services across the UNH system’s six campuses in the state.
A large part of her job involves hiring, training and supervising a student support team. The group of around 30 students handle equipment rentals, maintenance and testing, and provide tier 2 and tier 3 response to incoming calls via the AV hotline.
“We have 200 classrooms on the Durham campus alone, so these students are our lifeline and our first line of defense when it comes to our clients,” explains Williams-Barnard.
In the same way that she arrived at a career in AV via a nontraditional route, Williams-Barnard encourages students from any department to join her student AV team.
I like to have a diverse crew. We have students majoring in chemistry, business, farm and forestry, nursing… they come from all walks of life. As long as they have the ability to listen and learn and treat clients with utmost care, I can train them,” she says, noting that her student team members consistently return year after year.
In her role as audiovisual technology specialist/AV support and services administrator, Williams-Barnard is part of a full-time team of a dozen AV specialists who oversee the university’s audiovisual technology needs. This includes equipment upgrades
and maintenance as well as training faculty to use and make the most out of the technology available to them.
“It’s important to communicate the ease of use of the technology we’re placing in classes for professors. The technology can sometimes be overwhelming when they’re standing in front of students, so being able to show them that there’s a simpler way to do this and being able to go through it together so that they are comfortable can be very rewarding,” she says. “When they learn to be self-sufficient in the classroom and they don’t have to call us back, I feel like we’ve achieved our goal.”
As part of her ongoing education in AV, Williams-Barnard recently took and passed her CTS. She was encouraged by her team lead to pursue becoming AV-certified and, following months of study during the COVID lockdown, was able to achieve that goal at InfoComm
Her path to CTS involved taking the AV Technician Essentials and AV Math Online courses, after which she felt comfortable enough to take the CTS Prep course at InfoComm, followed immediately by the CTS exam.
“The CTS Prep course was a great way to reassure myself about my AV knowledge and prepare my mind for taking the exam,” she explains. “The teachers, Chuck Espinoza and Jeremy Caldera, brought a wealth of information and industry
experience and presented a huge amount of material in the three-day course. They both took time to break down some of the more difficult topics like AV math, DISCAS and networking, and never balked at a question that was asked.”
She was one of five people from her team who took and passed the CTS at this year’s show.
“The value the CTS gives to both our full team and myself is a recognition that we follow and promote industry standards. This includes, but isn’t limited to, emerging AV technologies, comprehensive training, safety for our technicians, and
the ability for all team members to discuss clients’ classroom wants, needs, and current functionalities,” she says, noting that both clients and professors at the university recognize and appreciate the professional qualification.
Williams-Barnard says her ultimate pipe dream is to get her student team members interested enough in AV to take the CTS. Just as she has found a rewarding career in the AV industry, she’d love for some of her students to embrace this opportunity
and combine their field of interest with the experience they’ve gained as part of her team.
“I love to impart that they can find professional careers in AV related to their field of study, such as, for example, nursing or biomedical, assisting in a hospital with medical AV equipment, or business management students finding work in AV sales,”
she says. “The AV industry tends to be overlooked by college students, who might not realize they can do this as well as their field of interest. I find it extremely rewarding working with them and feeling like I’m creating futures for
students to use their AV knowledge in all these different ways.”
Kaetryn Williams-Barnard, CTS
Support Services Logistician & Student Coordinator
University of New Hampshire