NTC donating 24 computers to PCs for People

Northwest Technical College will donate two dozen computers to St. Paul-based PCs for People, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing poverty by eliminating the number of Minnesotans without computers or Internet access in their homes.


The college will donate 15 desktop computers and 9 laptops that were purchased between 2007 and 2008 for a variety of roles. Some were staff and faculty computers funded by the college, while others were lab computers funded by the college’s student technology fee. All of the machines are Gateway-brand computers and are the last Gateway machines owned by the college. NTC moved to Dell-branded machines in 2008.

The college permanently erased the contents of the computers’ hard drives, and PCs for People will sanitize the systems using a process certified by the National Association for Information Destruction. Hard drives unable to be sanitized during this process are marked for physical destruction. The group then reinstalls an operating system on successfully sanitized drives prior to distributing computers to clients.

PCs for People uses a refurbishing process that allows for truly non-functional computers to be professionally recycled an environmentally responsible manner.

Shane Jensen, information technology specialist at the college (pictured, left, with NTC student Sam Wolkoff), said NTC uses computers for no less than four years, and a machine typically has a life span of around six years.

“NTC students pay a technology fee and there’s an expectation that they have access to current technology,” Jensen said. “Many of these machines were designed for Windows XP, and we’ve standardized on Windows 7. Some of these machines may run Windows 7, but have reached a point in their life cycle where even with a fresh operating system install they’re simply too slow for our standards.”

For the machines that are still useable, the donation will allow equipment that no longer meets the college’s technical needs to continue serving a purpose in the community. While the college must follow a process to donate surplus materials defined by the state, Jensen says it makes sense for the college to donate these still-functional computers to organizations like PCs for People.

“I’ve always felt it important to make an effort to keep our used assets in the community,” he said. “In the past, NTC has contributed a variety of local non-profit organizations including Heartland Christian Academy, The Bemidji Science Center and the Solway Fire Department, to name a few.”

The machines will be donated on Nov. 8, when PCs for People makes a scheduled stop in Bemidji to gather equipment from a number of donors in the area.

About PCs for People
PCs for People is a St. Paul, Minn.-based organization attempting to reduce poverty by eliminating the number of individuals in Minnesota without a computer or Internet access at home. PCs for People seeks to create new opportunities by providing affordable personal computers, computer repairs, Internet service and education to people whose technological experience is limited due to social, physical or economic circumstances.

PCs for People works to ensure that every student has a computer in the home. It is working to close the technological divide by reducing the cost of technology; working to teach skills to those in need to ensure a positive future in a promising field; and reducing the amount of electronic waste in the environment.

To receive a computer from PCs for People a potential recipient must be below the 150% poverty level, have a family member with a disability or work with a social worker.

To learn more, visit pcsforpeople.com.

Shane Jensen, information technology specialist, Northwest Technical College; (218) 333-6651

About Northwest Technical College
Northwest Technical College, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, is an open, inviting technological learning organization. For more than 40 years, the college has valued life-long learning and the worth and dignity of all people. Its open-enrollment policy, affordable tuition and high-quality education have attracted a diverse group of learners; today, the College serves more than 1,200 learners. The college offers more than 40 degree programs in areas such as business, health, human and protective services and environmental and industrial technology career programs. Classes are offered on the Bemidji campus, online, or as a combination of both. NTC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. For more, visit ntcmn.edu.