Gaming Lab, Spring 2014

Design Specialists
  • Eric Hawkinson, Information Technology
  • Beverly Jordan, Ergonomics and Layout
  • Mila Sanchez, Audio Visual and Lighting
  • Jodie Tighe, Furnishings

Team Presentation Archive:


Why create a gaming space?

Educators today increasingly include games in their teaching strategies. These games come in all forms and uses. Yet learning space designers often do not address the varied types and applications of games.

This gaming space facilitates the playing, testing, and creation of games based on a wide range of subjects from language learning to computer programming. This space will not only allow students to create, test and play games but, more importantly, it will also provide a space where instructors can employ all types of games for various teaching purposes.

In the clip below, one of the authors of this Wiki discusses the power of games in education:

The Challenge

Our challenge is to design a workable gaming design and test lab, for undergraduates in a Japanese college, in a 20' x 30' room that will comfortably hold about 15-20 adults. Game design involves different equipment and conditions than game testing does, and our lab will facilitate both processes. In addition to student users, members of the larger community outside the collge will have access to the room for meetings and activities.

Please examine the photos and video tour of the original room posted below:

Photographs of the original room:

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Video tour of the original room:


View Larger Map

Existing Space's Floor Plan

The space is almost like any traditional classroom, especially in Japan. Dimensions are roughly 20x30 feet.


We will convert this space to a multipurpose room. Some of the following events will happen here:

  • Game creation, modification, testing, or playing
  • Instructors using games to teach
  • Students' using the space as a recreational area
  • Media lab for studying, viewing, designing, etc., not just games but also other subjects
  • Community use

These uses combine to facilitate game design on a conceptual level and allow for swift development and reiterations.

Needs Assessment


Several different stakeholders have expressed interest in this gaming space. Their varying roles, jobs or intended uses show just how versatile games-based learning is, and its increasing role in today's learning environments. The array of desired uses for this particular gaming space demands that the space be as multi-functional as possible.

Possible audiences and their use of the room:
  • High school teachers want to use it as a place to introduce programming fundamentals in the context of creating simple games.
  • Medical Information Technology University teachers want to use the space to demonstrate the use of technology in medicine, termed "tele-fitness" and "tele-medicine."
  • The University Student Council and the Clubs and Activities Board want to hold gaming events in the space.
  • Language teachers want their students to play games here, to reinforce the didactic material and to practice speaking ability in particular.
  • The community outreach committee wants to hold group seminars to engage seniors with younger people.

As stated above, high school students, university students, and community members may all use the space. Their age ranges mostly from teenager to adult, and their desired uses vary.

Although game design and game testing may not happen simultaneously in this space, we wish to prepare it for days when both events happen at the same time, as well as to facilitate the space's easy conversion from one whole-room event to the other. The size of the room, 20' x 30' feet, is a bit small for either process.

What would users of such a room need?

Interviews with avid gamers included the following suggestions. We note in parentheses where these suggestions weren't feasible or practical in our case:

  • For role-playing, comfortable sofas with easy-to-reach and foot-friendly coffee tables (The space is too small.)
  • For war games, taller tables than the norm (No: Gamers were unclear why they wanted this feature, and for only one type of game.)
  • No smoking
  • Drinkholders, as many as possible on chairs/sofas/tables (This suggestion was a surprise, and not feasible since this Japanese college prefers not to have food or drink in any of its rooms, particularly those with electronic equipment.)
  • Vending machines (Again, the school prefers no food or drink in the room. Even if they allowed food, the room is too small to devote space to vending machines.)
  • Both round and square tables of different sizes (Not enough room)
  • Some tables able to be raised to the ceiling in order to change them if the room's small (Too complex an installation for this school's needs and budget)
  • Some lights able to be raised and lowered if people want a certain sort of lighting over their table
  • Tables and chairs all on wheels, and all wheels have brakes so players can hold chairs and tables in place if desired
  • Some chairs with and some without arms (Chairs won't have arms, in order to take up less space and reduce costs)
  • Chairs able to be raised and lowered to accomodate different heights of players
  • Good lighting, but not glaring in anyone's eyes or computer monitors
  • Plants in the room, even one plant, to help air quality (If the college agrees)
  • Game storage with easy access
  • Enough storage space that games don't hide other games behind them
  • Reasonably up-to-date computers with high speed Internet available, both Macs and PCs
  • Non-skid (top and bottom) tablecloths available if game boards or pieces are slippery
  • "Quiet" zone for games or development needing quiet and concentration (As much as possible, given the size of the room)
  • "Noisy" zone for game play as far as possible from quiet zone (As above)
  • Ready supply of scorepads and pencils
  • Cardholders: sometimes people have huge hands of cards to hold (Possible, although unnecessary if the budget is tight)
  • Handicapped-accessible
  • Equipped with restrooms (The school has pre-existing restrooms.)
  • Some chair cushions for the skinny (Possible, although unnecessary if the budget is tight)

Many users will bring their own devices, which include smartphones and tablets as well as laptops.

Design Concept and Recommendations:

The room needs one section set up with computer stations and tables for students, at least one movable podium that can hold a monitor and computer controls for teachers, and another section set up with booths or tables for gamers, testers or loungers. The teacher or students at each workstation, table or booth need to see what's happening at the other workstations or booths, so we will install a document camera and video screens at each corner or side of the room, with controls at the podium and workstations, a movable smartboard/whiteboard in front of the room, and another movable one at the back of the room. We will need storage space for games and game pieces.

Floor Plan, Proposed Layout


Information Technologies

The name of the game for a games lab is reiteration. This concept of game design refers to the complete run through of development from design to program to user tests. We now have platforms available to us for the classroom that allow us to take an idea for a whole or partial game, create it and then test it with great rapidity. This process can be seen in the gaming consoles in the popular game Minecraft, in PCs in the game Second Life, and in mobile gaming as well. Accordingly, we've chosen hardware and software configurations that allow the room's users to go through the entire creation of a game or level in a short time, from inception to alpha and beta testing and feedback from people both currently and not currently using the room.


Sometimes the testing of game mechanics and game play don't require a digital platform. The space's physical tabletop gaming area with game pieces and other physical tools can also be utilized.

Games are played on a variety of platforms. Therefore, this space will cover as many platforms as possible, while prioritizing those with the most potential for uses in learning.

This matrix of types of games and sub-categories of games helped inform the hardware choices:

Game Type

Microsoft Xbox
Sony Playstation
Steam OS

Microsoft 8.1
Mac OS
Steam OS
Microsoft 8.1

Role Playing
Role Playing

Using these platforms, the IT specialist brainstormed basic hardware requirements for the 4 major sections of the space. He then analyzed this matrix to see what games users might play, test or show, and on what platforms, in different areas of the room.

space usage.png
  • = These are changed, based on what devices were individually brought to the space

This exercise also shows how many students at a time can be involved with a particular step or activity in the space.


  • Workstation area:
    • 2-3 PCs installed with Microsoft 8.1
    • 2-3 Macs
  • Tabletop area:
    • document camera
  • Lounge:
    • none
  • Common:
    • projection/smartboard/whiteboard, one at the front of the room, one at the back, and both movable
  • Moveable:
    • 2x mobile TV stands on wheels with storage compartments
    • 1 with Xbox One, Apple TV, Miracast
    • 1 with PC(Steam OS) , Apple TV, MiraCast
  • The control booth:
    • is a central place from where the facilitator can control how media is used and shared to other areas and screens. Housed in a workstation on wheels, the control booth will contain a PC running Windows 8.1, and allow the placement and connection of the facilitator's laptop. This booth will also house Wi-Fi access for the space, and restrict ports and IPs from outside and between devices.
    • will also contain a central server. Running windows 8.1, its main function will be to act as a firewall between the Internet and the wireless LAN. It will also serve as a storage space secure from public access.
    • contains a wireless router, a key piece of equipment, since it will provide teachers with authority over what access different devices will have in the space. We need a router that supports the 802.11n standards. That means it operates at 2.4GHz and ideally at 5GHz, delivers bandwidth of up to 300Mbps, and is backward-compatible with 802.11g and b (when operated at 2.4Ghz).
    • might be the Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router,a good choice if purchased today.


We chose platforms not only for their popularity in gaming, but also for the tools they offer for creating games. We then chose software that best allows others in the space to share and test games with other players and get feedback from them.

Microsoft Windows 8.1 will be useful for its educational game creation platform, called Kodu.
Kodu, originally named Boku, is a programming integrated development environment (IDE) by Microsoft's FUSE Labs. It runs on Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. It was released on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace on June 30, 2009. The general public can download a Windows version from Microsoft's FUSE web portal. This platform can create games for use on the Xbox One, as well as on Windows Surface tablets and on Windows smartphones brought to the space.


The latest Mac OS will be useful for editing and creating mobile applications and games with Xcode.

Xcode, an integrated development environment (IDE), contains a suite of software development tools developed by Applefor writing software for OS X and iOS. First released in 2003, the latest stable release is version 5.0 and is available via the Mac App Store free of charge for Mac OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion users. Registered developers can download preview releases and previous versions of the suite through the Apple Developer website.


Steam OS, a new operating system for the most popular online gaming store, allows independent developers fairly easy access to the market. It can also be run as an application on Windows and Max OS, and can now be run alone on a PC.

Android software development is the process by which new applications are created for the Android operating system on smartphones, tablets and other devices. Applications are usually developed in the Java programming language using the Android Software Development Kit. Both Mac OS and Windows can run the Android SDK.

Control booth

The control booth will also house media controls to process where and when visuals are shown on the various screens in the space. One possible software platform, Radix SmartClass, transforms students' Android and Windows tablets into a rich twenty-first century learning environment. With SmartClass, all students' activities can be managed from the teacher’s Android or Windows mobile device, without middleware server or hardware (peer-to-peer). Students can easily connect their tablets to the classroom Wi-Fi network while the teacher stays in control, using his own tablet or Laptop.

Technical Support

Located in the same building on the first floor are the student support offices. They will administrate the scheduling for the use of the space, and hold keys and passwords for access. They will also repair or replace damaged equipment as the budget allows. They will be available during office hours for first level support on issues with the use of the room's equipment. They can also offer appointments to show teachers and students how to use the equipment. Should there be issues with the equipment, they can be called to the room for assistance.

For issues of login, passwords and security, the campus IT department can be reached by phone. They can also come to the room on request to help with issues related to the management software and firewall systems. They may not be available immediately for help as they are often out of the office working on other issues. Teachers using the space are encouraged to visit the student support services office to schedule time to learn about and test the equipment before their first use of it.

Trouble ticket forms will be placed in the space for usability issues that can be handed over to the student support offices for non-pressing issues.

Lastly, for issues pertaining to game development software, the companies related to those products must be consulted. A list of relevant phone numbers and support web sites will be compiled and placed in the room and on the classroom blog for users who need support. In a few cases, support may be available only in Japanese or English but not in both languages, depending on the product.


We would like to incorporate the following audio, visual and lighting design interventions for the Gaming Lab:


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Sound Attenuation
Noise levels in our space will vary from the very loud (e.g. video game showcase or board game testing) to the more subdued (e.g. classroom lectures). To contain the noise, we propose the use of hanging, sound-absorbing felt curtain panels around key "loud" zones (such as the gaming table area), as well as carpet tile throughout the space.

Though many elements in our room are part of a flexible and open floor plan, certain zones within the room are fixed and will not move (gaming table, workstations). We intend to suspend the felt panels via a curtain track on which the panels can slide out to create "walls" around a specific area when more privacy or noise control is needed, and can slide back to rest flush against the wall when the users want a more open atmosphere. Although these suspended panels are limited by the track location, they do not require the bulky wheels and frame of a traditional wall panel and actually take up less room because they can be stacked flat along the wall.
Individual audio
To help minimize auditory distractions, students will have access to wireless headphones that connect to the room's audio system. These headphones allow them to play or test a video game on the mainscreen with full (individual) audio, while other groups and activities continue undisturbed in other parts of the room.
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Surround-sound speakers
Although the room is not very large, surround sound will help amplify sound for any video or audio content used during class.


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Overhead document camera
We will use a ceiling-mounted document camera to record and project videos of board game testing.
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Mobile monitor
One to three mobile monitors can be used for individual purposes (e.g. gaming), as well as for screen-sharing (e.g. classroom lectures).
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Interactive whiteboard
We'll place an interactive whiteboard at the head of the room where wall space isn't otherwise occupied, as the main visual tool for classroom lectures. A second one will have roaming capabilties as needed.


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Indirect overhead lighting
Indirect overhead lighting provides even, ample light for taking notes, reading or watching a lecture, without the glare or hotspots that can come from direct lighting.
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Task lighting
Separate, controllable lighting fixtures can be adapted for certain tasks. One example is a wall-mounted light with a movable head that can be positioned above the control station. Similarly, lighting above or near the document table/camera can be adjusted for a specific task.
Baseboard lighting
At times the Gaming Lab will be dark, with the only light coming from the projection screen. In these instances, we have taken a cue from movie theaters and outdoor spaces, which often provide just enough dim lighting near the ground for the audience to navigate through the space, but not so much that it interferes with the ambiance of the theater.
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Black-out shades
Black-out shades are essential in our space, because of the vast amount of natural light it receives. Typically, natural light is an asset for a classroom, but for this gaming space we need a darker environment to accommodate projected images and electronic devices/screens.


We need multifunctional furniture that facilitates a number of different uses of this multipurpose room/GamingLab. Since the room measures only 20' x 30' and hosts numerous activities and users, the furniture specialist chose compact and movable furniture, preferably with some allowance for storage, to equip this small and busy space. Furniture specifications match the Ergonomics specialist's recommendations as much as possible.

Furniture decision

1. Computer workstation
Compact workstations

Compact computer workstations for game design and general computing purposes can be utilized by teacher and students during and outside of class time.
Three to four workstations could fit across the space allotted in our floor plan. Their specifications are in line with those suggested by the Ergonomics specialist.
The Nesta Flop Top tables from SmartDesk have modular power underneath, which is configured with electrical units to connect to power outlets in the wall. These tables support compact desktop computer workstations and can be used for computer training labs, multi-purpose classrooms and learning studios.
2. Chairs
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Ten to eleven folding, rolling, armless chairs

Folding and armless chairs help save space, and rollable ones are easy to move about the room.
They're ergonomic, breathable, foldable and on wheels. We'll need three to four for the workstations and seven for the gaming area. Their specifications are in line with those suggested by the Ergonomics specialist.
3. Desks
About 11 movable desks with 20 chairs

Movable desks with chairs are easy to rearrange for different learning activities.
We need approximately 20 chairs and 11 tables.
Their specifications are in line with those suggested by the Ergonomics specialist.
4. Gaming table
"Portal" gaming table

This table saves space by providing storage for components, isn't slippery because of an optional felt gaming cloth, and provides recessible shelves to hold writing equipment or a tablet. It's not on wheels, but wheels with stoppers could be added by a competent carpenter.
5. Media towers
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Three: for the control booth, the lounge area and one mobile, although any one of the three can be placed anywhere

Three towers help maximize the flow of digital information around the room. They can also back up one another if one of them fails, which is crucial given the heavy user traffic in the space, and they are relocatable during activities requiring maximum floor space.
6. Cupboards / cabinets

Cupboards (lower left) on two sides of the corner of the room containing the gaming booth, with cabinets (upper left) running below the cupboards.

The counter space on top of the cabinets offers users temporary resting places while they move game materials or other class supplies in and out of permanent storage. They also allow for some placement of backpacks and other personal items not needed by the users during class. Fewer accidents happen in classrooms whose aisles or walkways are not blocked by backpacks or purses. These cupboards and cabinets provide enough storage space to arrange games in a single row, so that a front row doesn't hide a back row from the users.
7. Flooring
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Carpet tiles

Carpet tiles cut down on noise; the room originally had none. Neutral grey tones will help keep the room feeling as large as possible, and their square-and-block design will help users align the furniture to provide as many lines of sight as possible.


The Ergonomics/Layout specialist used the Success Case Model (SCM) to learn what ergonomics and layout qualities supported a collaborative / active learning classroom. An ergonomics/layout assessment of the GamingLab helped to ensure the proposed design included: good lighting and air quality; good temperature and acoustics; ergonomic, movable and adjustable furniture, and the latest smart technologies. In addition, the Ergonomic Layout Concept was designed largely based on the considerations and rationale of the sight lines, orientation, and doorway clearance.

  • “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” [International Ergonomics Association, (IEA)] “Ergonomics helps (in) harmonizing things that interact with people in terms of people’s needs, abilities and limitations.” [International Ergonomics Association, (IEA)]

The assessment results and key findings about ergonomic and layout qualities for a space utilized for a collaborative / active learning environment, such as our Gaming Lab, included:
  • Ergonomics

    • Centralized instructor's station
      • Allows the instructor a space to engage with all the students in the room.
    • Control Panel In Podium
      • Allows the instructor access to modify and control the audio, visuals, whiteboards and the overall classroom environment.
    • Ergonomic tables, chairs and workstations
      • Tables and chairs that comply with OSHA ergonomic standards to help prevent injuries and ergonomic risk factors.
      • Allows for comfortable seating, with adjustable height levels to support desktop computers and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) technology.
    • Low glare LEDS-C4 lighting
      • Provides comfortable, low-glare illumination that complements natural light.
      • Lights should be raised or relocated, if overhead, to a position outside the normal line of vision. (International Ergonomics Association, 2010)
    • Blackout motorized blinds
      • Gives the instructor control over the environment to help prevent eye-strain.
      • Reduces reflection and glare by dimming overhead lighting, turning off some lights, and drawing curtains and blinds. (International Ergonomics Association, 2010)
  • Layout

    • Furniture
      • Always choose flexible, easily accessible, movable and adjustable tables and chairs.
      • Allows instructors flexibility to use the space for lectures and lab time.
      • Allows students flexibility to move around to work in pairs, groups, and teams for collaboration and interpersonal communication.
    • Walls
      • Always place monitors and whiteboards suitable for other audiovisual applications and interactive presentations in line of sights with unobstructed viewing areas.
      • Walls should hold control panels that are simple to use and clearly labeled. (University of Guelph, 2014)
    • Doors/floors/ceiling
      • Always arrange furniture in spaces that leave exits and evacuation routes unblocked.
      • Reduces noise levels and uses sound absorption tiles installed in the ceiling.

Ergonomics and layout are very important aspects of our multipurpose Gaming Lab. The following table outlines the ergonomic considerations for the environment (temperature, lighting, audio, visual, technology, furniture), and the layout for the floor plan (furniture placement, walls, floors, ceiling, and windows).

Ergonomics / Layout
Remote Control Digital Thermostat

RedLINK™ Wireless Comfort Systems
Honeywell's RedLINK Wireless Comfort System connects to the Internet to provide the instructor with remote access from their PC, smart phone or tablet using a free app.

The Instructor can use the programmable remote control thermostat from the smart podiums for independent control over classroom temperatures to meet OSHA standards.

"For ambient indoor temperatures, the range OSHA recommends is between 68° and 74° F (20° and 23.5° C) during the heating season, and between 73° and 78° F (23° and 26° C) during the cooling season.” (OSHA 2013)
Smart Podium Touch Control Panel
ASC University Missouri-Columbia
The instructor can use the Touch Control Panel for independent lighting control, equipment control, project control, audio control, and visual control from a device on the Smart Podium. (ASC)

Labeled, primary light controls are located at the instructor’s station, A/V cabinet and projection booth. (University of Guelph, 2006)
Workstation Design
(International Ergonomics Association 2010)
Adjustable tables and chairs help users change heights to achieve the correct eye angle on computer screens and monitors, and the proper hand position on the keyboard to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. (International Ergonomics Association 2010)
Cable Management
NestaTM Laptop Tables
Ergonomics / Layout
NestaTM Laptop Tables has a pre-wired modular wiring system, so that power cables just plug in and tables connect together.

Computer cables should be stored in an orderly manner underneath tables and desks, if possible, to avoid the risk of tripping and accidents. (International Ergonomics Association, 2010)
Ergonomic Chair
(International Ergonomics Association 2010)
Ergonomic / Layout
Comfortable chairs on wheels, with adjustable backrests for lumbar support, adjustable seats for pelvic support and adjustable heights, allow a flexible posture and permit position changes to accommodate users' seating preferences. (International Ergonomics Association, 2010)
Gaming Mouse
WarCraft Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Students can use the razor style Warcraft ergonomic 6D optical gaming mouse or an ergonomic controller to help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

Ergonomic Layout Concept / Rationale

The following tables illustrates considerations, and the ergonomic layout concept and rationale based on the line of sight and doorway clearance that were used for furniture placement and
Ergonomic Layout /Rationale
Line of Sight /
Clearance in
lineofsights1 copy.png
Line of Sight/Doorway Clearance


GamingLab Concept -Ergonomic Layout

Line of Sight

Workstation placement (Margaritis & Marmaras 2007)
  • Place as many workstations as possible near the windows.
  • Define the direction of the workspace module to adhere to ergonomic standards.
  • Orient the workstations to allow workers to observe entrance doors.

Doorways' clearance (Margaritis & Marmaras 2007)
  • Doorways should remain free of furniture.
  • Allow for free space 9.8 ft (3m) in front and 3 ft (1m) on both side of main entrance doors.
  • Allow for an area of 4.5 ft (1.50 m) in front and 2 ft) (.50cm) at both sides of any other door.


We propose a shared classroom blog where the users of the room can post photos and summaries of their activities. This procedure will allow other teachers to see many possible uses of the room and will provide inspiration for different teaching methods.

We also propose a post-occupancy survey evaluation of the room, after students and faculty have used it for a full semester. The survey will be distributed via email to the rooms' users, including high school students, college students, community classes (working adults), and faculty. The survey will address topics related to the utilization of the room, including how the groups used the space, how helpful it was to their teaching/learning activities, what they liked/disliked about the room, ease of upkeep, availability of user support, and suggestions for improvement. The survey will also address the equipment, furnishings and physical qualities of the room including comfort, ease of use, accessibility and technology. Felix and Brown's Learning Space Performance Rating System (2011) will guide us in drafting this survey.


Throughout the process of designing this gaming lab space, we kept in mind the themes of flexibility and reiteration. These themes also speak to the way games themselves are designed and used in learning. In conclusion, we recap how these themes were highlighted in the various design choices of our specialists:

If we want the teachers/trainers who use this space to be able to appropriate almost any game available, as well as ones created in the space itself, the room needs a flexible design. Non-movable furnishings were kept to the far end of the room.
  • Viewing units are on wheels
  • Tables and chairs stack and roll away
  • Students can bring almost any device, and share content
  • Multiple software platforms are present

Games design is a process, and that process is repeated countless times in order to create good gaming experiences. This space needs to facilitate all steps of the game design process from creating the ideas to publication and distribution, and every step in between.
  • Table top areas with physical pieces allow quick game play/mechanics testing
  • Workstations allow creation of digital prototypes
  • Main smart board allows illustrations and comparisons of work
  • Viewing monitors on wheels allow instant sharing of game play and design
  • Lounge offers a place to play and beta-test games


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California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Division 1, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1, School Facilities Construction, Article 1. General Standards relating to California Department of Education (CDE),

California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Division 1, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1, School Facilities Construction, Article 1. General Standards relating to California Department of Education (CDE),