Seven screens affixed along the wall in ASU’s Decision Theater offer a nearly encompassing 260-degree panoramic display of graphics and visualizations. It’s called the “drum.”
The “drum” is a major tool for Decision Theater, a visualization center that works to provide a format for companies to solve their development issues and accommodates up to 25 people.
ASU alumnus Kena Fedorschak, management intern at Decision Theater, said the Decision Theater was highly utilized by companies when he started two years ago, but involvement has declined.
“When I came here, we were in the middle of working on a lot of projects, and it was really exciting all the time,” he said. “We had people in here all day booked out in the ‘drum.’”
Fedorschak said the “drum” operates using real-time updates across the various screens. For example, a solar company may use the technology to look at locations and associated information.
“On one of those screens, you can draw your geographic coordinates for where you’re going to build a power plant,” Fedorschak said. “Then on one of the other screens you enter all relevant information … the efficiency, the costs, all the little important data. And then the rest of the model updates with every little piece of information you could ever want to know about building it there.”
Although Decision Theater has experienced a bout of stagnation with decreasing staff, aging technology and some failed endeavors in recent years, the staff is moving forward to become revitalized.
Global health senior Ashley Abbey, a student worker at Decision Theater, said they are making changes to gain their traction back.
“We’ve been going through some recent administrative changes,” she said. “Changes on what the direction and the main mission statement of what Decision Theater is, what it should be, what we hope it should be.”
Aaron Lance, systems analyst at Decision Theater, said the center’s initiatives are to connect with faculty and assist them, as well as create an 18-month schedule to better accommodate potential clients.
“Our main focus is building up reputations with the faculty, providing more services and providing more of a benefit to them,” Lance said. “In some cases, helping them get funding and, in some cases, training students to be able to help with research projects. And, in other cases, it is just a question of being more accommodating around schedules.”
Decision Theater was created in 2005 from an initial investment of $3 million by businessman and philanthropist Ira A. Fulton, with additional funding from the University.
By promoting knowledge-based decision making in groups of different experts, Decision Theater helps create a base for understanding the problem and adding to the complexity to simulate real-time probable outcomes.
The center also uses its interactive facility to promote interconnectivity between different research fields.
While Decision Theater is currently in a transitional phase, Lance is confident in its progress and outlook for the future.
“We’re trying to overcome not just the behaviors of the past but also the reputation of the way that we worked with other departments,” Lance said. “It takes time, but we’re making headway.”
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