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Virginia Tech Power and Energy Center: A Use Case in Higher Education and Graduate Research

The Higher Education industry has always been defined by the global and widespread pursuit for knowledge.

With the introduction of various factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, global faculty members and guest speakers, as well as international students, the need for Higher Education to provide digital alternatives quickly became apparent. In recent years, Engagez has seen a steady growth in Higher Education uses of the platform to fulfill many academic and educational needs. One such academic institution to use the platform was Virginia Tech’s Power and Energy Center. Follow along below to see how they transformed an in-person conference into a global digital event.

About Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is a public research university with its main campus located in Blacksburg, VA. It offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs and boasts a staff full of Nobel Laureates. 

Why They Chose Engagez

In 2021, a group of graduate students from Virginia Tech’s Power and Energy Center approached Engagez with a problem: with the ongoing pandemic, it would be impossible for their Power and Energy industry conference to be held in-person. Together, we determined that the best course of action would be to set up a virtual event, but before doing so, we had them define their goals. Defining goals is an important part of planning any event, but is extremely important to planning a digital one as it will help you determine the features you want to use and what you hope for your attendees to get out of it. 

The graduate students at Virginia Tech had three main goals for their event: to bring students together, to study new industry concepts, and to talk about industry changes. They also discussed their hesitation with using a digital event. Some of these hesitations included latency and streaming issues. While latency issues are a universal problem with streaming into any platform, Engagez provided reassurance to the event organizers as the audience is not generally aware of the lag. Only when the presenter is on the platform watching themselves while also using a third-party streaming service will the presenter notice this lag on the stream. The best course of action is to suggest the speakers either do not watch themselves within the platform or if they would like to be the person monitoring incoming questions, they should be sure to have the platform muted.

How They Used Engagez to Create an Interactive Digital Event

In order to engage their attendees and meet their goals for bringing students and industry leaders together, Virginia Tech used a variety of features. Some of these features included:

  • 1:1 chats and video calls so attendees could discuss materials and updates with each other
  • Livestreamed and simulive sessions with Q&As enabled so that viewers could actively engage with presenters
  • On-demand video content for those to review material or view presentations that they may have missed
  • Resource center where graduate students could share research findings
  • Exhibition hall and booths with pre-recorded videos of people demonstrating their work
  • Enabled the Notes section on the interaction panel within Sessions so that people could take notes during a presentation and then email the notes to themselves
  • Allowed industry professionals to post job opportunities

Virginia Tech made sure to make the most of their event. After the event ended, they used our automated Emails section to send thank yous to presenters, staff, and attendees. They also used the Analytics section to report to their department head about attendance, engagement, and geographical locations. 

The Results

We spoke with the graduate students who put on this event and here’s what they had to say: The platform allowed for a more geographically diverse audience as those from China, Japan, Europe, and the Netherlands were able to join us virtually. This would not have been likely if it was in person because there was no additional cost for a flight, a hotel, and food. As a result, attendance was better for international attendees and industry professionals. Additionally, after having built out the event, they found the Engagez platform to be customizable and professional. It offered a more diverse look than a standard webinar held on a third-party platform like Zoom. Lastly, the graduate student who built out most of the event found the platform to be intuitive and easy to learn if you committed the time to watching the videos and reading the articles found on the Engagez Knowledge Base.