Inside DELTA: 5 Questions with Brandon Pope
Brandon Pope joined DELTA in 2017 as a technology support technician and has continued as a classroom support technician to provide classroom technology support for services like integrated control systems, Zoom and most recently, Panopto, a project spanning since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit NC State’s campus.
Pope’s position requires a lot of adaptability throughout the year, but the DELTA community and his interests outside of work keep him going through it all.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Pope’s job changes throughout the year depending on the academic schedule.
“In the summertime, I do a lot of coordinating with other teams within DELTA to implement new technologies,” Pope said. “We are conducting rigorous testing, and also implementing new equipment in a time like this.”
During the fall and spring — when classes are back in full swing — Pope is more focused on support and maintenance of classroom technology.
“I am responsible for responding to any issues that our end users may have, whether it’s instructors or technicians on our team,” Pope said. “If they’re having trouble with equipment or something doesn’t work, maybe someone needs training on something? I handle solutions for those types of scenarios.”
What do you enjoy most about working at DELTA?
“First and foremost, the people,” Pope said. “We’re surrounded by a lot of talented and caring people here at DELTA, which to me, creates a great environment to work and grow in. Also, I feel like DELTA is very committed through the entire organization to really never resting and saying ‘We’ve found something and it works. We’ve always done it this way.’ We are always questioning how can we do something better, and always being in that mode of constant improvement. It’s a motivating environment to be in.”
What project are you particularly proud of from your time at DELTA?
Pope collaborated in both the search and ultimate implementation of Panopto, NC State’s newest enterprise content management system used to record classes and lectures for distribution and viewing. It’s one of Pope’s more recent projects and it’s a multi-year commitment.
“DELTA had several content management manufacturers/vendors, like Panopto, Echo360, Yuja and Mediasite, who presented demos on campus,” Pope said. “The attendees were from DELTA as well as other stakeholders from ClassTech, other AV and IT staff from campus, and leadership from various colleges and schools who would be impacted by the technology to be selected.”
After the presentations, everyone ranked the various platforms based on their college or department’s needs, and Panopto came out on top.
Panopto doesn’t manufacture hardware for their software, so that led Pope and DELTA to testing various third-party hardware. Because this technology needed to do different things for different groups, an all-around hardware option was needed.
“Several manufacturers provided hardware for testing,” Pope said. “Each group would collaborate on configuration and troubleshooting of the devices. However, each group also had unique use cases for the appliances. For example, in DELTA classrooms, real-time monitoring for quality assurance was of importance due to the asynchronous delivery and distribution of the recordings. For other groups, the ability to receive automated error messages so that issues affecting quality could be investigated and resolved at a later time was of more importance.”
After regular meetings and expert feedback from campus partners, DELTA landed on the Epiphan Pearl Mini. When over 300 Pearl Minis arrived on campus, Pope assisted with tracking the inventory of the hardware and distributing to campus partners. After over a year of working through this project, Panopto premiered on campus for the fall 2021 semester.
Pope was able to collaborate with other groups at NC State like the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and OIT’s ClassTech.
“I learned a lot from the people they have on those teams, how they do things, and a lot of their processes and procedures. It was exciting just seeing it really come to fruition. We’re using Panopto daily for instructional content capture,” Pope said. “It was great to see how the Video Communication Services team came together to define and standardize a new workflow to make the transition for faculty as smooth as possible in every way.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
There are many questions that Pope constantly has to answer about the technology used by DELTA and how to maintain it.
“Whether it’s the actual technology — changing from one platform to another — or even the technology that is already in use at NC State, I help to keep it updated,” Pope said. “Are you on the latest version? Is it secure? Just all those things.”
Like the journey to fully implementing Panopto, Pope also works with new technologies for DELTA.
“I help to find the best way to utilize the technology to its maximum capabilities. A lot of the technology that we use daily, I am tasked with answering the question: Are we getting the most out of it?,” Pope said. “Can we do anything more with this to enhance our use and give our instructors, and our students a better environment for teaching and learning?”
What do you like to do outside of work?
“Outside of work, I am a major band geek,” Pope said. “In my previous career, I was a band director at a high school for many years, and I still teach music outside of work. I’m probably a certified band geek.”
Besides work and music, Pope is also passionate about travel and going on roadtrips whenever possible. While his job requires heavy planning, his travel is quite the opposite.
“I really just like going off the beaten path; I don’t really have an agenda,” Pope said. “I just hit the road with my camera. I went down to Charleston, South Carolina, last summer, and that was just great. I went down to Rainbow Row and random restaurants and checked out a couple of different beaches.”