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Defense Acquisition University Connects Locations and Leaders with Polycom Telepresence


Immersive Telepresence Environments Dissolve Classroom Walls, Enabling More DOD Professionals to Attend Senior Service College Fellowship

FORT BELVOIR, Va., and PLEASANTON, Calif. - Defense Acquisition University (DAU), the college responsible for the continuing education of nearly 130,000 military and civilian professionals at the Department of Defense (DOD), is dissolving classroom walls with immersive telepresence solutions from Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in telepresence, video and voice communication solutions.

Working with Polycom partner Apptis Technology Solutions, DAU is installing Polycom® RealPresence™ Experience (RPX™) immersive telepresence suites in 10 locations throughout the United States. Polycom telepresence is already helping DAU extend the reach of its Senior Service College Fellowship (SSCF) program launched in 2006 to prepare the DOD’s more experienced Defense Acquisition Workforce personnel for advancement.

DAU is deploying the Polycom telepresence systems to better leverage resources by transforming its remote teaching network, which previously relied on legacy video teleconferencing (VTC) systems plagued with inferior video quality, frequently dropped connections and long lag times. “Critical thinking is a big part of this program, so continuity is vital,” said David Newberry, who heads DAU’s SSCF program. “Without it, you lose the quality of learning that you need.”

After an extensive evaluation of competing telepresence solutions, DAU chose Polycom based on three key criteria: a highly immersive and effective distance learning environment featuring high-definition (HD) video, audio and content; a competitive price; and an open architecture for easy future expansion.

“We wanted to create an environment where participants had the sense they were truly involved with one another,” said Dave Scibetta, DAU’s director of operations. DAU has since installed three systems – in Huntsville, Ala., Fort Belvoir, and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. – and will deploy the rest as facilities are upgraded and expanded. The university expects nearly all 10 systems to be installed by year’s end.

“Polycom telepresence delivers an ’across the table’ experience which helps organizations like DAU improve the quality and effectiveness of communication spanning distances,” said Rene LaVigne, president and chief operating officer, Apptis Technology Solutions. “For DAU, the unique immersive environment of the Polycom RPX delivers a truly interactive distance learning experience.”

DAU’s growing telepresence network enables staffing resources to be optimized by expanding their knowledge sharing capabilities and reach, improving the quality of interactions with students while saving SSCF fellows from having to travel to Huntsville to attend the program. “You can have 12 people in one location and 12 in another, so 24 students are being taught by one instructor,” said Chris Hardy, director of DAU’s e-Learning and Technology Center.

DAU can use the systems to more cost-effectively engage nationally known speakers to enrich the curriculum provided to SSCF fellows. And by reducing travel time and transportation costs for instructors, students and speakers, DAU is seeing a rapid return on its investment. “In the first year, and with just two Polycom telepresence solutions in place, we saved more than $255,000,” said James McCullough, dean of DAU’s South Region.

Delivering an ’across the table’ experience
With a cinematic, 16-foot video wall and specially designed conference environment, the Polycom solution virtually places each all participants “across the table” from each other, and this has proven to be essential for creating an optimal, dynamic learning environment where participants interact easily and naturally. Integrated content sharing capabilities and an HD document camera ensures instruction materials can be viewed in detail from any location.

“With Polycom telepresence, you become one with your environment,” said McCullough. “In about two to three minutes, you forget you’re separated from other participants.”

“It’s like night and day compared to what we had before,” said Bobbi DeLeone, professor of acquisition management in DAU’s School of Program Management, who said lag times were so severe that students wouldn’t hear a question until 10 seconds after it was asked. “With telepresence, the resolution is fantastic. And we can bring in the teaching tools – like the whiteboard, computers and video – that we use here on site. Students tell us it enhances their ability to learn, because it’s like they’re in the same room as instructors and they’re not distracted by technical glitches.”

The Polycom environments also enrich communications during regular leadership meetings among DAU deans and directors. “The time and travel savings are significant,” said Newberry. “I can have the lieutenant general in charge of all Army acquisitions sitting in front of me and anyone else he needs to speak with. And he won’t have to get on a plane and fly to Huntsville or drive up to Aberdeen Proving Ground.”

To expand its video network capabilities and simplify management, DAU is outfitting its telepresence network with the Polycom RMX 2000™ real-time media conference platform and the Polycom Converged Management Application™ (CMA™).

McCullough said DAU is eyeing even more uses for Polycom telepresence. He already relies on it for executive coaching, and wants to leverage it for recruiting. The university also is considering expanding its network to Orlando, Fla., to link DAU sites with the learning lab of a major private industry partner.

“There are a lot of uses for this technology,” McCullough said. “We just haven’t discovered them all yet.”

“We are seeing interest in telepresence and video conferencing from businesses in various industries,” said LaVigne. “The natural, effective interaction it enables is universally applicable and I think we are just scratching the surface on its potential to change how we work. Through our partnership with Polycom, Apptis Technology Solutions is able to meet the growing demand for real time, Unified Communications essential to the needs of today’s global business environment.”

DAU case study (PDF):

About Defense Acquisition University
Defense Acquisition University (DAU) educates and provides certification training to the acquisition workforce in the Department of Defense (DOD), along with other government agencies and defense-related private industry. DAU students manage acquisition and logistics for all military systems – from surveillance to weapons – and administer contracts worth up to several billion dollars. With 20 locations throughout the United States, DAU offers formal courses, continuous learning, knowledge sharing assets, and consulting to a DOD civilian and military workforce of nearly 130,000. Through a combination of classroom, online and hybrid courses, DAU graduated a record 154,252 students last year. For more information, visit

About Apptis Technology Solutions
Apptis Technology Solutions is a proven leader in providing intelligent full-lifecycle IT solutions. Leveraging a collaborative approach with clients and products expertise, the company designs and builds data center, unified communications, network infrastructure and client computing solutions.

About Polycom
Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.


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