Students in one Computing and Security Technology Microcomputer course learned more about computers while giving back to their community this term, as a part of the Computers for Humanity Project in Goodwin College’s Computing and Security Technology program.
In the class taught by Professor Ashley Podhradsky, two custom computers were built by students and donated to People’s Emergency Center of Philadelphia. One is an instructor workstation that will help adult learners take night classes to gain digital literacy, and the other is going to a women’s and children’s homeless shelter.
“We can help these people through this technology. A group of citizens that don’t have access to technology struggle with what we take for granted,” Podhradksy said.
It has become essential to have computer access to improve one’s situation, and there is a digital divide for those who don’t have the access to what they need.
“People without technology struggle more to advance their career, education and their life,” Podhradsky said. “The overall goal is to decrease a digital divide and have a positive impact on digital literacy.”
The course allows students of all majors to gain experience working with current computer technology, with the added benefit of helping others in need.
“There is an entire community that supports Drexel and its students, and to be able to give back to that community in a service learning capacity is a priceless feeling,” she said.
During the first half of the class, students tore apart nonfunctional computers and rebuilt them. Then, students purchased brand-new computer pieces and assembled the computers, adding necessary software with a strict budget of less than $500 per computer. Funding for the course is acquired from private donations that are processed through Patience Ajoff-Foster, the program’s assistant.
Podhradsky started this project four years ago in South Dakota and continued it when she transferred to Drexel in 2010. A different charity is selected each year, choosing ones that help people to help themselves.
Frank Domizio, a pre-junior majoring in computing and security technology, decided to take the course because of what he could learn about hardware. In addition, he was interested in the community service portion of the class.
“As Drexel students, we are expected to be leaders in technological fields. Part of the role of being a leader is ensuring that technology is accessible to the masses,” Domizio said.
This was Domizio’s first time building a computer from scratch, and at the end of the project, he was relieved that the computers were fully functional for the PEC to use.
“I felt a real sense of accomplishment and community. One day I hope to follow the computers to the People’s Emergency Center to help foster the skills that the computers were donated to teach,” he said.
Planning for next year’s project, which is to assemble an entire computer lab for the People’s Emergency Center of Philadelphia, has already begun.