Old devices get a new function

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A Dunedin student helps turn tech waste into a life-changing tech treasure.

Set up during the nationwide lockdown last year, Recycle a Device (Rad) is a project aimed at bridging the digital divide for schoolchildren and young people in New Zealand by redistributing not only used laptops, but also by teaching the necessary engineering skills. to refurbish the laptops themselves.

The project is co-chaired by Owyn Aitken, a freshman from the University of Otago, who is partly responsible for the creation of Rad, which grew out of an initiative Mr. Aitken created as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme at the time of her studies, called Remojo.

“When we were forming the seeds of the project at Aotea College in Wellington, we saw the problem ourselves with friends stuck at home without access to a device.”

“[Pupils] who otherwise would not have the chance to pursue these career paths have the chance to learn how computers work and gain an in-depth look at these things. It’s one of my favorite parts of the program ”.

The 18 year old built his first computer in grade 9, with the help of his friend and now colleague Hadi Dawood.

Rad is bridging a gap highlighted by the pandemic.

“Last year, the New Zealand government released figures indicating that during the lockdown, around 100,000 students did not have access to devices or an internet connection. “

“We aim to introduce 2000 units in the community this year, 5,000 next year and 10,000 the third year.”

At the head of the management of donations of appliances is Rebecca Harris, liaison with donors to Rad.

She spends her time coordinating contributions from an individual level to the institution and company level.

“I know how many people have old devices lying around and do not really know what to do.”

“The university generously donated old devices.”

The donation was to continue.

Access to computers was increasingly crucial for young people.

” That’s all ; online banking, even as you develop your interests and personality and understand your role in the world, ”Ms. Harris said.

A call for used devices for the program was launched this week by NZTech, an alliance representing organizations that span New Zealand’s tech landscape.

“It is so difficult for many Aotearoa students to access a locked learning device,” said NZTech CEO Graeme Muller.

While Mr Muller believed more public funds should be spent on the cause, he also urged the Kiwis to seek organizations such as Rad to provide laptops and their chargers.

“The tech sector is growing so rapidly and creating so many new jobs that we need to make sure that as many New Zealand students as possible have the opportunity and the devices available so that they can access jobs well. paid and exciting in technology. . “


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