By: Francis Koster, Ed.D.
Students In Training is a community based program established in Salisbury, North Carolina, that allows upper elementary, middle school, high school, and university students to learn about computers under the supervision of certified professionals. Working in donated space after normal school hours, under the mentorship of community volunteers and some paid staff, the students collect or are given discarded computers which are reused or torn apart and the components reused or recycled.
During 2008, the program collected more than 85 tons (up from 45 tons in 2007) of computers, printers, and accessories such as wireless routers, hubs, printers, and monitors. Over 40 tons of scrap metal and glass was recycled, 600 computers were refurbished and either sold or donated to low income families. Many tons of hazardous waste was diverted from landfill into proper recycling.
70 students participated in the program, which has found particular favour with home schooled youth who find the workshop a place to meet other likeminded students.
The computers which can be repaired are refurnished and loaded with new software. Those which go to recycling are torn apart by the students, who learn about the various components and environmental stewardship in the process. Those parts containing hazardous materials are handled in appropriate manner, and the students are trained in hazardous materials management. Recycling is done to Department of Defence Standards for handling of hazardous materials. Those components that are simply scrap metal are sold for scrap. Unneeded but serviceable parts are sold, mainly via e-Bay.
Students start by disassembling computers, and learn the components. As their knowledge increases and test are passed, they move up the ladder and are allowed to install parts into chassis, and test them. Later, they can progress to loading software, testing the final product, and handing it over to the recipient.
During 2008, the annual budget was $132,000. Income to support the project came from grants and donations (80%), sale of scrap (5%) via e-Bay, and the balance from purchases of reusable computers.
You may learn more about this project by visiting their website at http://sitorg.org/ or contact Mr. Mike Hallett, 704-637-8915, Students in Training, 1128 South Main Street Salisbury, NC 28144