Students giving old computers new purpose

Posted at 11:17 AM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 18:05:34-05

"Any sound is a good sound."

Jack Mountain stays optimistic as an old Dell laptop makes strange beeping noises most of us would assume to mean the computer is broken.

"It looks like a battery issue, we can fix that," he says with a smile. Mountain loves computers and loves the challenge of figuring out what's wrong with them and how to fix them.

It's what attracted him to the Johns Hopkins University's BootUp Baltimore club, which refurbishes and donates computers to charities and city schools. They also teach computer literacy to students.

"The main thing is getting kids familiar and comfortable with this technology that’s just grown to be an integral part of society," Mountain said.

Mountain is one of the students in the group who mostly focuses on repairing and cleaning up the donations that come in. A majority of their donations are from other schools within the Hopkins University system. They also take private donations. Mountain says most of the computers are an easy fix, but they occasionally get the stubborn device.

"It’s just the computers that are infuriating to work with and the ones we give up on after a full two hours of trying to fix problems and it doesn't work," he said.

Most of the computers are an easy fix, and within a few days they're ready to go to their new homes. And that's where the other half of the BootUp Baltimore club comes into play.

"We can't just give people computers if they don't know how to use, them so we also have teaching so that people can understand how to use these computers," Mountain said.

Once the students complete the computer literacy program, they're each given a new computer, previously loved by a generous donor.

"I feel like I'm making a difference in Baltimore because everything we do in the end is focused toward helping the community," Mountain said. "Getting the younger generation interested in computers, learning about computers and then giving them computers of their own, it's really satisfying work once you actually look at everything you've done."

To learn more about BootUp Baltimore, click here.