One man’s trash, as they say, is another man’s treasure. Just ask CNIT Helpdesk Technician Tori Smith, who set out to secure laptops for ‘Berg students who may need them while learning remotely during the COVID pandemic.
Tori reached out through her social media, asking for donations of used laptops that she could refurbish and provide to students who needed them. She received a few donations, but not enough to support the HU student need.
“I’ve felt for a while that there was probably a need amongst students for loaner laptops but was not able to get any momentum behind getting a program going,” says Tori. “The pandemic and the shift to online learning created the perfect storm for me to get this project started.”
Tori turned to someone very familiar: her dad, Dale Smith.
Dale is the materials manager at Continental Structural Plastics in Carey, Ohio. He saw his daughter’s post on LinkedIn and he knew CSP could help. He and co-worker Nick Koehler, a system support analyst at the CSP plant, identified 15 laptops in the company’s recycling bin as an opportunity to donate, rather than dispose of, the equipment.
“When my dad let me know that CSP was interested in donating laptops, I thought we would be receiving 4 or 5 laptops. I was blown away when I was given a stack of 15! This donation allowed the Helpdesk to support our students to a greater extent than I had originally imagined,” Tori says.
Now, she gets to do something she really enjoys: “Frankensteining” devices together, giving them a new lease on life and a new home. “I take great pride in doing my best to fix what is broken, upgrade things by recycling resources and doing the little things that make a big difference,” she says.
With assistance from Will Marshall, IT Systems Administrator, and senior Megan Newell, a student technician who’s also from Carey, Tori has completed the inspection, repair and preparation of the laptops. In all, they were able to refurbish 12 laptops to loan out, using parts from the three less viable laptops to fix and improve the others and put them in students’ hands.
This was a win-win situation for everyone. CSP saved the expense of disposing of the laptops, and Heidelberg gained 15 laptops at a time when the need is high.
“This gift is very timely as our students deal with the COVID pandemic and adapt to online learning where a decent computer is required but not always available,” said Kurt Huenemann, associate VP for Information resources. “CSP’s donation has greatly enhanced our ability to fill the gaps and keep them moving ahead with their studies, whether at home or on campus. Tori has been a great advocate for our students and I’m pleased that we are able to make this connection with CSP.”
After consideration, CNIT decided to make the donated laptops available as loaners because “it provides a more sustainable way to assist students with technology needs,” Tori says. “CNIT's Helpdesk is dedicated to empowering students to pursue their goals, and now we can provide a more robust support system for them!”
The donated laptops are being used for both short-term and long-term loans on a first come, first serve basis.
- Long-term loans are maximum of one semester, with the laptop being returned at the end of the semester for maintenance, and the user can request a loaner laptop again for use during the next semester.
- Short term loans are provided when a student's laptop is in repair/troubleshooting for more than a day. Students are eligible to receive a short-term loan no matter where their laptop is being repaired – by CNIT or another organization such as the Apple Genius Bar.
Access to technology is crucial to a student’s success now more than ever. Over the last several months, CNIT has been handling a high volume of support requests. “The additional flexibility allows us to best support our students and provide resources to set them up for success,” Tori says
If you would like to contribute to her initiative, devices in fair shape with viable hardware and/or easily fixed issues (e.g. hard drive, keyboard key, or battery replacement) are being accepted. Please reach out to Tori (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information regarding the donation process.