ESI Collaboration Studio bolsters University of Oregon’s Business Research Institute

Tucked away on the second floor of the Chiles wing of the Lillis Business Complex, in the University’s sophisticated Business Research Institute, one of the most efficient technology systems on campus lies quiet and unassuming.

Specializing in qualitative research, the ESI Collaboration [email protected]@[email protected]@ has a stripped-down professionalism that belies its extensive capabilities. There are hints of practicality in the pushpin-ready walls and reconfigurable conference tables, and even the formidable interactive whiteboard and 52-inch LCD flat panel screen seem discreet mounted onto the wall.

The overall effect is hard to ignore — a room designed with focus groups in mind, both welcoming and serious.

“When we’ve had students come in, they see it as a very professional area,” said IT consultant Ben Foster, in charge of the facility’s [email protected]@[email protected]@ @@[email protected]@

Though external users, including local and regional businesses, can use the room, it’s also a valuable resource for student business projects and other in-house ventures of the University’s Lundquist College of Business.

“It’s a place that excites business students about research,” Business Research Institute Director Joan Giese said. “It gets them beyond the numbers, statistics and methods to actually see the excitement in determining consumer insights.”@@[email protected]@

Among its impressive specs, the room also boasts built-in audio and video recording equipment, a one-way mirror with viewing in the adjacent control room, a wireless touchscreen control panel to run the devices and complete videoconferencing abilities, which Foster said have already been put to good use.

“The videoconferencing is used the most uniquely to do a lot of new and fun things,” Foster said. “We’ve used it a lot going from here to Portland, to the East Coast and even now from here to the other side of the planet.”

Recently, student interns and faculty connected with a Chinese company through the videoconferencing system prior to their on-site visit.

“This is a space you can connect directly with consumers,” Giese said. “That’s why collaboration is a meaningful word for this space, because you’re collaborating with customers, businesses, other partners, you can collaborate with agencies — government, research, public relations — you know, it’s an endless list of collaboration. This room represents the place you can come together.”

Although ESI issued a press release announcing the studio June 16, Giese says the studio has been operational since January.

“Because of the nature of the technology — it’s a very sophisticated, integrated technology system — we have tested and added to it, and we’ve spent the last six months preparing for more of a live launch,” Giese said.

The studio, officially known as the ESI Collaboration Studio in Honor of Douglas C. Strain, @@[email protected]@was recognized through a generous contribution from Portland-based Electro Scientific Industries,@@ which specializes in laser-based manufacturing in the microtechnology industry. With the gift to the institute, the University and ESI honor the company’s late co-founder Strain, a forward-thinking early pioneer of Oregon’s Silicon Forest.

“ESI was looking for a good match here at the University of Oregon that represented his vision for technology,” Giese said. “They understand the value of incorporating technology with research, and this space fits the vision that their founding father had.”

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