Florence-Darlington Tech hosts IT Camp
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
While many computer users may not be able to tell a motherboard from a graphics card, students at a local information technology (IT) camp learned that discerning what component performs which task – and how to assemble them all into a working CPU – wasn’t so difficult. For three weeks this June, eight students took a crash course in computer building and software instruction that will give them a leg up in college or the work world.
This free IT Summer Camp was held on Tech’s SiMT campus, co-sponsored by Florence-Darlington Technical College and the Pee Dee Workforce Investment Board, in concert with service providers Darlington County School District (through the WIA program and coordinator Rudell Dubose), Paxen Learning Corporation, and Florence School District Three.
Mathew Lenke, program manager for IT Training at Florence-Darlington Tech, served as instructor for the camp. Lenke is a Microsoft Certified Trainer with 20 years experience as a corporate software trainer. He notes that the successful completion of this camp will allow graduates to affix a Microsoft Office certification to their resumes indicating proficiency in both Word and Excel.
“Anybody can just write that they know how to use Word and Excel on their resume, but if you’ve got that logo from Microsoft that you can legally download and use, there is not a question,” says Lenke.
The IT camp students, aged 15 to 21, learned much more than how to be a more effective end user; in the first week, they were tasked with assembling their own CPU from the ground up. Starting with a box of components and an empty chassis, students built the very computers they would use for the rest of the program.
Brandon Haselden, a student from Florence, was referred to the program by Paxen Learning after earning his GED. Haselden says that the idea of hardware assembly was initially intimidating, but it turned out to be easier than he had feared. The subsequent software instruction was a bit more challenging.
“When it comes to the mechanics and components of building (a CPU), I had no idea before this class. But believe it or not, the building of it wasn’t the hardest part – it was everything that came afterward,” Haselden says.
As he plans for college, Haselden says he wants to pursue something in the computer science field, and notes that, in the interim, the Word and Excel certifications will make it much easier to find a job.
The CPUs built by the class are “ten-year builds,” which Lenke says will allow students to upgrade components as they become outdated. And they’ll save a great deal of money, since they now know how to replace faulty parts and install upgrades on their own.
Best of all, every student who completed the IT Summer Camp got to keep the computer they built, free of charge.
Lenke says that while the Tech IT program is still a new venture, it can provide reasonably priced software instruction for area students, organizations and corporations via its convenient location on the SiMT campus.
Joette Dukes, Workforce Development Director for the Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments, says her agency is proud to partner with other providers to offer students this unique opportunity for career exploration, occupational training, and work-based learning.
“The Workforce Board looks forward to future opportunities to offer innovative programs to the youth and adults it serves. In addition to the wonderful opportunity it is for the students that were chosen to participate, it is an awesome catalyst for more innovative approaches to workforce development in high-demand occupations in the Pee Dee Region and beyond,” says Dukes.