Inside DELTA: 5 Questions with David Tredwell
Team Lead of Multimedia Development David Tredwell has worked at DELTA for 13 years — 14 1/2 if you count his time as a student intern while enrolled at NC State. In his position, Tredwell and his team work on DELTA Grants and find the best solutions for their clients.
“As part of my job, I try to absorb enough of the subject matter and the challenges so I can make recommendations on what is going to be the best fit, even if I’m not working on it personally,” Tredwell said. “My clients are instructors who request guidance with course design, or something more media focused, involving illustration, animation, custom development or web interactive kind of products.”
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Tredwell’s responsibilities differ throughout the year because of the DELTA Grant process. Early stages are analysis and question based, and eventually Tredwell and his team shift to actually creating their final deliverables. Tredwell often gets to flex his personal expertise in custom web design.
“The process in a lot of cases results in me doing some coding and breaking things until they are a little bit more reliable,” Tredwell said. “Sometimes it involves a lot of collaboration like whiteboarding or note taking. In addition, we tackle some of the stranger instructional challenges.”
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on at DELTA?
Due to his longevity at DELTA, Tredwell has many projects he’s worked on but remembers the unique instructional challenges most. One of these challenges was for an organic chemistry class taught by Teaching Professor and Director of Organic Chemistry Lab Maria Gallardo-Williams. Tredwell and his team created a board game-like online program for practicing chemical bonds, like ethane and methane, which atoms can make with each other.
Another project Tredwell and his team worked on was MyTech, an interactive physics app using the internal sensors of students’ smartphones.
“It was very fun, because we designed an app that physics students use in the laboratory, and they got to use their phones as a part of the experiment,” Tredwell said. “They would drop their phones onto a pillow or attach it to a spin wheel and measure rotational rates. Then they could use their findings as part of their experiments. With our app, they didn’t have to purchase some expensive off-the-shelf sensors to conduct experiments.”
One of the most technically impressive projects Tredwell worked on was Piano+, an interactive piano method book. A traditional piano method book typically had only sheet music in it, while the interactive version included lessons, a glossary and a way for the sheet music to constantly be formatted to any page size.
“We created a responsive sheet music solution,” Tredwell said. “No matter what size device you used, the sheet music reformatted itself so that it always took up the correct amount of space to fill the screen. Also, the app lets you use your stylus to mark the sheet music up and get real-time feedback as you play on a connected piano.”
What is the hardest part of your job?
Tredwell always takes the future of his projects into consideration in the development process.
“It’s kind of like a balancing act when we’ve got to come up with solutions to different instructional challenges. We’ve always got to be mindful that when we are brainstorming, we want to be creating solutions that are a balance of innovation, reliability and longevity,” Tredwell said. “We don’t want to necessarily develop something that is going to have a really limited impact. We want a solution that is going to get a lot of use and is going to last for a long time.”
What is the best part of your job?
Tredwell cites the passionate team members at DELTA as one of the best parts of his job, as well as the instructors he collaborates with on DELTA Grants projects.
“The instructors have self-selected as people who are just really passionate about education. They want to make things better, and they’re willing to give us some of their trust to explore ideas,” Tredwell said. “That’s probably the most exciting part of this job and what makes it so special. We get to work with instructors to help realize some of their ideas.”
Tredwell also enjoys the innovative nature of his role and the amount of flexibility he has on projects.
“I like that there’s some cultural leeway to explore and innovate,” Tredwell said. “We’re allowed to take some risks in the sort of ideas we’re trying and that’s very baked into the process. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel every time we begin a new project. We have an ever expanding library of tools we can use, but in the cases where there’s not a good fit available, there’s some freedom to explore.”
Finally, Tredwell wants to emphasize the community at DELTA.
“I truly appreciate the culture that is cultivated here,” Tredwell said. “I’m amazed at the culture, that it has remained here, and that it is something that basically everybody I’ve met who works here has adopted and internalized. It’s really quite something — and it’s not just food related!”
What do you enjoy outside of work?
“I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, playing video games, which as probably an umbrella term — I enjoy stories,” Tredwell said. “Stories are how I spend my time. I also enjoy dog-walking because in a very literal sense, that is what I spend a lot of my time doing; we live in Carrboro near some woods, so we’re always exploring the local wildlife.”
Some of this reading includes the work of Frank Herbert; something Tredwell’s coworker’s might not know about him is his fascination with Herbert’s “Dune” and other works, including his older and harder-to-find books.