In spring 2020, Director of the School of Technology Colin Miller at North Central University in Minneapolis, had students in his computer architecture class build computers. Miller planned to use them for the School of Technology.
At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on public spaces was causing significant challenges for people who depend on libraries for access to technology. Bill Tibbetts, dean of the College of Business and Technology (COBAT), suggested that perhaps the computers could be donated to address that need in the community.
COBAT faculty reached out to Mohammed Amin Kahin, executive director of Milestone Community Development, who worked with North Central to find an organization that would benefit from the computers.
In August, NCU students and faculty delivered three custom-made computers to African Immigrants Community Services (AICS), an organization serving East African refugees in the Twin Cities [Minneapolis-St. Paul]. The computers are now helping families who need technology access for their children’s education.
Kahin is grateful for the partnership and North Central’s community outreach.
“Partnering with North Central University was a great work,” Kahin said. “The computers are changing people’s lives, giving access to people who don’t have computers in their homes, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, helping their education, livelihoods, and betterment. I appreciate North Central for partnering within our community; they have always been a champion for great things.”
“Dean Tibbetts came up with the vision to donate them to the Somali community,” Miller said, “and it turned out to be a more rewarding experience, providing an opportunity for my students to produce something that will be a blessing to families in need.”
BETTER THAN A BOOK OR LECTURE
Sophomore Garret Olesen, a Management Information Systems major and one of the captains on the PC build project, said, “This project … gave me a chance to gain more experience with building a PC, while also learning how to edit and form a comprehensive how-to-build video. The project benefited my learning and understanding of PCs, and I gained more than I could have from a book or a lecture.”
Olesen also appreciated the opportunity to reach out to the community. “I’m very thankful that the work we did in class was also a benefit to someone else’s life.”
For a community developer like Kahin, North Central’s neighborly focus is powerful.
“I sincerely appreciate North Central University for being a model to all other universities for how accessible they are to our community,” Kahin said. “If every university would contribute to our neighborhoods and communities in this way, things would be better.”