A group of MSOE students recently traveled to Africa to set up a computer lab for students at St. Joseph Comprehensive High School in Mambu, Bafut, Cameroon. The initiative was spearheaded by Project Community Computers, an organization headed by Jeff Hanson, electrical engineering and computer engineering senior at MSOE. The used laptops, which otherwise would have been recycled, were donated by MSOE’s Information Technology Department and loaded with a free, open-source operating system.
For the students at St. Joseph’s, the computers will provide a valuable link to information and a brighter future. “They will use the computers for both research and for the Internet,” said Keenan Quick, management information systems senior. “Many of the universities in Cameroon require online applications, so the computers will help them find and apply to universities. It will also help them secure good jobs after graduation.
For Sharyn Warren, institutional research manager at MSOE and staff representative who was part of the group, the highlight of the trip “was to see the appreciation and the celebration enjoyed by all the people at St. Joseph’s, as well as the nuns at the convent who now have access to technology. The teachers are now able to incorporate technology in their studies, and students are able to use the Internet and the laptops to type papers, do research and learn more about social networking.”
The trip was supported in part by MSOE’s Office of Servant-Leadership. The volunteers transported the computers, flash drives, keyboards, mice, monitors and power cords in their own personal luggage. The school and dormitories are guarded 24 hours a day, and the laboratory is locked behind steel doors whenever a teacher is not present.