For more than a decade, the university has highlighted its world-changing research achievements and discoveries through 31 bronze markers placed across campus.
The achievements range from the creation of the first popular graphical browser for the World Wide Web and the explanation of superconductivity, to the production of a life-saving antibiotic compound.
Now, the university's achievements can be found online and on hand-held devices.
Todd Wilson, the director of special projects and the content manager for the campus's home page, has created an online virtual tour that highlights these achievements through narrated slide shows. It also can be downloaded as an MP3 file so people can listen to it as they tour the campus.
"The markers are honoring the achievement, but behind every achievement there are people," Wilson said. "When we decided to do a virtual tour that also could be a walking tour, it was a chance to expand and tell the stories of the people behind the markers."
The bronze markers were created in the early 2000s and honor university achievements that have had lasting, real-world impact.
The virtual tour was completed in six months. Wilson, the project manager, oversaw a staff of six, mostly students.
"Our students spent a lot of time in the archives and a lot of time poring through books," Wilson said. "For some of the faculty members, there just weren't many rtecords or images, so we had to look pretty well behind the stories."
The pictures and information were then used to produce a slide show through a software program called Soundslides.
Joel Steinfeldt, the campus's academic brand manager, has enhanced the virtual tour by making the videos easily accessible through smartphones.
Steinfeldt worked with Todd Hearne of Facilities and Services to place QR (Quick Response) Codes, two-dimensional matrix barcodes, on the poles supporting the bronze markers. People can then scan the codes with a smartphone and be directed to a streaming YouTube video of the narrated and closed-captioned slide shows.
The videos are short and optimized to stream on a cellphone.
"It's really a way of using new technology to get people to understand some of the older things that made us who we are," Steinfeldt said.
Steinfeldt and his team faced some challenges when creating the QR Codes. The codes were placed on a curved surface, which made it hard to scan.
"Also, some scanner phone apps work, some of them don't," Steinfeldt said. "Someone may go up (to the marker) hoping for a cool experience but don't get it because of their phone's technology."
Below each code is the URL of the YouTube video, just in case the codes don't work.
Wilson wants to expand the virtual tour to include 20 building markers that were put up shortly after the historical markers debuted.
"I think that the markers help people get a sense of the historical importance and strength of the university," Wilson said. "You come to a place where there are a lot of opportunities for students and faculty members, based on the collegiality and a history of working across disciplines. That's really significant."