For the Greater: National University Students Refurbish Computers for Families in Need

December 5, 2016

Students with National University’s School of Engineering and Computing are doing their part For the Greater by working with a local nonprofit to help close the digital divide in San Diego County.

Through the collaboration with Computers 2 San Diego Kids (C2SDK), students earning their Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management (BSITM) help refurbish donated computers for families in need while putting into practice the skills they are learning through the program. In turn, they are helping to address a need in the community to increase computer access and literacy, a need that is significant since an estimated 28 percent of families don’t have a computer in San Diego County.

“Through this partnership, our students gain valuable hands-on experience by applying their coursework and practiced abilities toward practical solutions outside the classroom; and hopefully, we’ve helped to enhance the heart as well as the mind,” said Dr. John Cicero, dean of the School of Engineering and Computing. “Helping others and thinking beyond your own well-being creates a well-rounded graduate, which goes well beyond a resume or even a job.”

Once the students refurbish the computers, they are made available to families in need who take a computer literacy class through C2SDK. And in some cases, they are even getting taught by Dr. Cicero himself, as he also volunteers his time to teach the literacy classes.

National University initially got involved with C2SDK by going into a church to set up and network its computers. “They built a system that changed the life of that church and the community around it,” said Twyla Perry, a volunteer coordinator for C2SDK. “That’s what propelled us to the relationship we have with National University today.”

There’s something else that occurs during the course of this partnership, according to Professor Debra Bowen, program lead for the BSITM program at National University, one of the state’s largest private nonprofit universities. “It adds a humanizing touch to a very technical field of study, helping our students to build people skills and teaching them more about the complex interaction between humans and machines,” she said.

Professor Bowen added that through the school’s partnership with C2SDK, the students gain a better understanding of end users and receive exposure to nonprofit organizations and urgent community needs that may open up additional career paths and shape more well-rounded graduates. She has taken several of her classes to the C2SDK warehouse in Kearny Mesa, were her students rotate among different stations, working on some of the following tasks:

  • Testing monitors
  • Testing PCs (desktops, laptops, notebooks) for functionality and requirements for reimaging
  • Degaussing hard drives to make sure all previous data is completely removed
  • Installing operating systems and software
  • Disassembly of unusable PCs (for parts)

“The students have seen firsthand how important these computers are, and what their knowledge can do to open windows and transform lives,” said Perry. “From Chula Vista to Oceanside, wherever low income families didn’t have computers in their homes, they’re now getting connected, thanks to the hard work and dedication of National University students. It’s really been a match made in heaven.”

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in California. With more than 150,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Four schools and two colleges – the College of Letters and Sciences; the Sanford College of Education; the School of Business and Management; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California. http://www.nu.edu/