As it has for every Olympics since 1984, Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, will send a professionally trained contingent of students to Beijing, China to help international broadcasters televise the 2008 Games. The school will send 56 students enrolled in its Media Communications department to China, who have been training on professional broadcast equipment from Thomson and other vendors since 2005.

Asbury’s technology-savvy Media Communications department, which produces a variety of sports and entertainment telecasts on and around the surrounding region, is now building a new 40-foot HD-capable truck; complete with a new Thomson Grass Valley™ Kayak™ HD 250 switcher.

The new truck, which will hit the road in August and begin producing a variety of local events that will air on the local cable TV system, will be used to train students for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

“This year’s students will begin leaving for Beijing on July 15 while others will be ready for the start of the games on August 1,” says Jim Owens, chairman of the Asbury College Media Communications department. Asbury College is the only school in the US in which its junior and senior level students work in actual paid entry-level professional broadcast positions for various broadcasters at the Olympics. They have done so for nine Olympic Games.

In support of commercial broadcasters, Asbury College students perform a number of tasks, from footage to video and audio editing to operating cameras. Unlike other college volunteers, the Asbury students—who are trained by Asbury College faculty who have worked numerous Olympics games between them—are paid for their work with the European Broadcast Union, Canadian Broadcast Corp., the host broadcaster, and others.

The Asbury College Media Communications department currently operates two Thomson Grass Valley Model 200 switchers, one in a production control room attached to its on-campus television studios and another on a 24-foot mobile production truck.

“We really like Thomson Grass Valley technology and have come to appreciate its reliability and how easy it is to train students on it,” notes Owens. “Once our students leave here, they can operate a Thomson Grass Valley switcher anywhere in the world.”

In 1996, for the Atlanta Olympic Games, Asbury College sent 173 students to support the worldwide broadcast, while about 75 students were in Salt Lake City, Utah for the Winter Olympic Games in 2002.