Computer students gain knowledge

Michael Ford
Managing Editor

Photo courtesy of James Roiger
Refurbishing   Densen Watson works on a donated computer.
   State Farm Insurance donated 125 computers to the University of Arkansas – Monticello in December 2004. After students finish voluntarily refurbishing them, the computers will be distributed to campus units and area schools.

   “The organizations who would like to receive a number of the computers are making requests to the UAM foundation detailing the intended use,” said James Roiger, professor of computer information systems. “A foundation committee composed of staff and faculty will match the computer capabilities with the intentions of the users.”

   Students enrolled in a Computer Information Systems practicum course (Matthew Adams, Monica Baber, James Barnett, Samantha Bunting, Sharon Cleveland, Yvette Franklin, Jennifer Jones, Robin Logan, Candis Taylor, Densen Watson and Shelton Wormley) participated in the refurbishing. They will be working on 100 Hewlett-Packard Pentium II and Pentium III desktop computers and 25 IBM Pentium II laptop computers. The students prepare 10 computers a week.

   The refurbishing process includes:

  • A close physical inspection of all components.

  • Partial disassembly to clean the machines.

  • A systems check.

  • The installation of a Microsoft Windows operating system to verify proper operation.

  • The wiping of hard drives in preparation for end users to install their own software.

   Computers experiencing hardware problems receive repairing, provided the cost does not exceed regulations. State Farm also provided a monetary grant to partially pay for replacement parts.

   With this being the first time Roiger and his students used their computer knowledge and skills in a community service project, they learned quite a bit.

   Densen Watson, senior CIS major from Dumas, received some computer experience in the Army; he added to his knowledge through this project.

   Watson said he enjoyed working on the computers, because now he finally understands how computer hardware and software interact with each another.

   “I was in the Telecommunications field, when I was in the Army, so I am very familiar with intricate networks and their connections, but I could not tell you the first thing about installing an operating system on a computer nor troubleshooting the various problems that might arise,” Watson said. “This project has provided me with these valuable skill sets.”

   The project required the cooperation of many people on campus:

  • The Information Technology Department provides the technical guidance.

  • The staff in the maintenance department picks up the computers after the refurbishing process and moves them to temporary storage until distribution.

  • The UAM Foundation provides the distribution of the computers

  • The staff in the warehouse delivers the computers from storage to the classroom

   According to Roiger, being able to receive and use donated computers will free up part of the schools' technology budgets that might be used in other instructional areas.

   “Many of the elementary and middle schools have only one or two computers per classroom,” Roiger said. “This program will allow them to increase that number and provide more students with an opportunity to develop their computer skills for a world that uses technology everywhere and for everything.”

   Roiger said his students considered the project a community service activity and all felt the urge to give back to their community in some fashion.

   Watson confirmed that notion.

   “The most enjoyable aspect of the whole project was knowing that my participation was a service to the community,” Watson said. “I would just like to thank Dr. Roiger, the UAM CIS division and all others that made this opportunity possible. I have gained some helpful skills while helping others in the process.”

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The Voice, 2005
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