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Campus IEEE group connects local youth with computers

Thousands of gently aged computers gather dust or get prematurely recycled while nearly one-third of San Diego families are left on the wrong side of the digital divide with little or no access to basic computer technology. In fall 2006, the UCSD branch of IEEE joined forces with Computers 2 San Diego Kids in an outreach effort to solicit donated computers, refurbish those systems and get them into the hands of as many young people as possible. So far, they have distributed more than 1,000 computers to low-income families and organizations such as community centers and schools that provide more centralized access to the communities they serve throughout San Diego. For example, third grade teacher Aida Hernandez arranged for her entire class from Ibarra Elementary School to go on a field trip to the refurbishment center where each student received a computer and a brief lesson on how to use it.

Members of UCSD's IEEE student chapter had plenty of computers to refurbish and distribute as part of the Computers 2 San Diego Kids program.
Members of UCSD's IEEE student chapter had plenty of computers to refurbish and distribute as part of the Computers 2 San Diego Kids program.

"Students cover the wide array of tasks necessary for this program - anywhere from technical support and computer refurbishing, to seeking and managing donations," says Philip Huang, IEEE branch external vice president. They've obtained significant equipment donations from the Jacobs School, Sharp Hospital , Booz Allen Hamilton and the Preuss School at UCSD as well as many smaller organizations and individual contributors. To maximize the efficiency of the operation, IEEE branch president David Jackson developed a Web-based tracking system.

"As our list of services continues to grow, our range of support will increase as well. It's clear that computers provide the richest resource for supporting our educational outreach vision, and equipping children with the tools needed to learn and exercise the computing skills necessary for today's society is exactly what we continue to provide," Huang added.

"Volunteers, like those from the UCSD branch of IEEE, are invaluable to the success of C2SDK," says Cheri Pierre, C2SDK's executive director. "Through their generous donation of time and talent, we can fulfill our mission of ensuring that all of San Diego's children have access to technology."

How to Donate Computers
Contact Philip Huang (p1huang@ucsd.edu) or Cheri Pierre (info@computers2sdkids.org).

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