|Kiwi Project reaches milestone by refurbishing 50th computer|
A project started by a group of University of North Dakota students that refurbishes discarded computers and donates them to nonprofit groups and individuals in need is preparing to distribute its 50th computer.
This past spring, Collin Anderson, a senior political science student, with the help of Tom Stokke, an instructor in the computer science department, as well as fellow UND seniors Jayson Coffel, Nikki Manual and others, launched the "Kiwi Project" to intercept the computers, most of them headed for landfills. An estimated 250 million computers will be cast off as obsolete from American homes and businesses over the next five years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Starting with a handful of surplus computers only a few years old from UND, the Kiwi Project members updated them and installed new software. The first computer was delivered to a local nonprofit in late March.
The refurbished machines are set up to be usable by someone who hasn't had a lot of experience with computers, allowing them to use e-mail, browse the Web and do word processing.
"Because of the design philosophies, the computers often run as well as new computers," said Anderson, 23, a native of Bismarck.
Other frequent providers of old computers for the project include Mayville (N.D.) State University and the Grand Forks Public School District. The group still is open to donations from others.
Anderson said he'd like to see the project continue into the future.
"Kiwi's survivability is contingent on our ability to bring in individuals with both applicable knowledge and interest locally," he said. "Because of the support of the (computer science) department, we have had more success than similar efforts in large cities like Minneapolis."
The Kiwi Project recently teamed up with the LaGrave Learning Center in Grand Forks to provide five refurbished computers, stocked with educational games and learning aids for school children. That partnership was recognized nationally last month by the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development, which regularly highlights success stories regarding learning centers on low-income housing developments.
"I am so grateful to the Kiwi Project for these refurbished computers," said Christina Hutchison, LaGrave Center coordinator. "I think they've developed a great project that, like us, is placing more computers in the hands of children. The games are kid-friendly and the children love them. They are realizing that learning can be fun.
"Through this partnership with the Kiwi Project, we are providing our children with greater access to technology."
For more information about the project, visit the group's Web site at http://kiwi.cs.und.edu, or call Anderson directly at email@example.com, or visit the computer science department in Streibel Hall.