Few high school students can say they do their homework on a computer that they built. Or repaired. But to the students in Mr. Hatczel’s Technology Support Internship, it’s not that out of the norm.
“I built my own computer. Several of us have; it’s how a lot of us got interested in it,” GHS senior Matt said while sitting at his own large, wooden table as he meticulously loosened and carefully set aside eight tiny screws from the inside of a student’s 820 HP laptop in the middle of the GHS library.
Matt’s tech hobby began before the 2017-18 school year, but his skills and interest have only increased, thanks to a new course taught by Mr. Eric Hatczel, in coordination with Mrs. Kate O’Malley of Geneva CUSD’s Technology department. During the first-period, TSI students receive direct training and learn valuable tech-based skills, then sit for their HP certification exam.
The classroom portion of the course teaches HP modules as well as the basics of customer service, both of which are essential skills of working on the District’s Help Desk, which is situated just outside the GHS library and serves to resolve students’ and staff tech-related issues via an Online Help Desk submission form.
On Day 1, the class received small orange tool kits and instructions by Mrs. O’Malley to disassemble the machines, learning about each part as they went along.
“A few programs have developed at other schools to provide students the hands-on opportunity to take a class in a fast-growing career field,” said Mr. Hatczel. “Mrs. O’Malley shares her indepth knowledge of servicing devices. My role is similar to that of a manager at a business. I train students how to act on the job, walk them through what their expectations are, evaluate their performance, and work largely on the students’ interpersonal skills to help them interact with students or staff. We are truly a great team,” he added.
Second- and third-time students will be assigned a period during their schedule to serve as an employee of the Help Desk, handling students’ and staff technology tickets. Students also will work on an individual pathway, which is an alternate certification that will help further their career in IT.
“I will probably take [the course] both semesters,” said Matt, who plans to study mechanical engineering at college after graduation. That is, after he gets through this week, as he and his classmates are preparing for their Service Qualification Exam. Later in the course, they take the PC Hardware Diagnostics Qualification Exam.
“I love that we are able to provide the students with a work-based career-related experience in the classroom,” said Mr. Hatczel. “It has been amazing to watch the students work tirelessly during a period with some of the very small components of a notebook and to see their full satisfaction as they finish the job and the product works after the repair.”
The class is a challenge, no doubt, says Matt, whose least favorite part of a computer are “these tiny little Wi-Fi leads. They’re just hard to click into place.”
Matt says fixing and putting things back together outweighs those pesky parts, though: “When I see something turn on the first time. That’s the most rewarding thing.”