Franklin County Technical School starts year with student-built computers

  • Haley Kurkulonis uses the new computers in the Information Technology Lab at the Franklin County Technical School. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/29/2016 10:03:02 PM

Students in the Franklin County Technical School’s computer programming and web design program started the school year with 26 new computers, but the students themselves were the ones who assembled the machines.

The school was able to purchase the new dual-screen computers after they were awarded a Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant for $50,777 last spring. They then received the computers later that school year and assembled them and had them ready for the start of classes in the fall.

The grant was essentially able to tackle two areas at once: the students were able to learn something additional through building the computers and the class was able to upgrade its technology.

Cyndi Bussey, one of the teachers in the program, said that they always want to stress a knowledge of computer hardware in the curriculum, but rarely get to do so in such a hands-on way.

The computers will not only benefit the high school students who have chosen computer programming as their vocational track at the school, but they would also be used in two other programs. The school runs a Tech Connect program in the summer for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and they are planning to launch a Tech After Hours program for adults this winter.

Students in the course who built the computers said the process taught them a lot, and it was at times high stress considering they could possibly ruin expensive equipment if they built it incorrectly. Many of the students said they walked away from the project with a new set of skills.

They also said the new computers are invaluable in the classroom. Beyond the experience of building them, they work better and run faster than older machines, and run newer software.

“Prior to getting these, we were really limited with what we could do,” Jacob Jones, a senior in the program, said.

The dual screens also help the students, who often learn from online guides or templates, save time on lessons because they aren’t switching back and forth on the same screen.

Haley Kurkulonis, a sophomore in the program, said the students also built the computers in groups and that required the students to use teamwork to accomplish the task. She said she not only had a good time building them, but that there’s a sense of pride in the accomplishment.

“Who really can make their own computers for their shop? Not a lot of people can say that,” Kurkulonis said.


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