The Rosemont Boys & Girls Club (BGC) knew they needed help with their outdated computer lab.
But as a nonprofit operating with limited funds, and no IT experience, where should they start? The answer came when they reached out to ECPI University’s Vice President of Technology Services, Julian H Aiken, Jr.
Aiken, a known IT expert in the Hampton Roads community, took the request from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia, and soon recruited faculty and students to help. As part of CIS 490, an internship class led by Virginia Beach CIS faculty Joe Blow, ECPI University students headed to the Rosemont club to take a look at what they were working with and make some recommendations.
“At ECPI University, we enjoy giving back to our local community, especially when it comes to educating the next generation. We could not be prouder of the faculty and students who donated their IT services both during class and on their personal time, to ensure the new computer lab was assembled, equipped and ready for the children and teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia to use.”– Andy Gladstein, ECPI University Virginia Beach Campus President
The Club’s lab, located at 1505 Competitor Court in Virginia Beach, had 14 computers and some printers. Some computers didn’t even work, and the layout had several hazards. That’s where Campus Director of IT Support Chris Craig entered the projects. Craig supervised the software and hardware assessments, recommended equipment to purchase, as well as cabling and switch recommendations.
“Together, we assessed their current equipment to the trash can as soon as possible,” joked faculty member Blow. “They were working with some really outdated equipment.”
The students created detailed project diagrams, so the BGC knew exactly what equipment they had and where it was located. “The kids got new computers, monitors, keyboards and mice, and Mr. Aiken was even able to get a lot donated, and the rest was paid for by a grant from Cox,” said Blow. “The students worked to cut everything to length, noting hazards and then fixing them, and labeling everything down to a T in the switch room.”
The project lasted longer than the class’ five-week term, but that didn’t matter to the students. They were determined to finish the project, coming in during their own holiday break on their personal time.
The student project lead, Thomas Robinson, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran studying Cybersecurity, says he learned a lot over the span of the BGC project. “For me, besides learning the tech stuff, I like being a student and getting the opportunity to put into play what we’ve been taught. The collaboration from class came right into play, especially with it being so much detail, and getting that real world experience matters a lot.”
“I’m different from my group partners being on the younger side,” said CIS student Azuriel Wright. “I got a culture shock of a professional work environment and working as a team. Who do we call to get information? Or how to be coordinated and flexible.”
Samantha Lucas, another member of the student team, agrees. “I learned a lot, but ultimately it was learning to build something bigger than myself,” she said.
The Rosemont Club held a grand opening ribbon cutting on January 6, inviting all the ECPI University students, faculty and staff who participated. The look on the students’ faces as the kids showed off their recent STEM project on their new computers was priceless.
“At ECPI University, we enjoy giving back to our local community, especially when it comes to educating the next generation,” said Andy Gladstein, ECPI University Virginia Beach Campus President. “We could not be prouder of the faculty and students who donated their IT services both during class and on their personal time, to ensure the new computer lab was assembled, equipped and ready for the children and teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia to use.”
The impact of CIS 490’s internship project will extend to hundreds of kids that will come to the Rosemont club.