One of the charities DRW is committed to helping is the Chicago branch of Year Up. For two consecutive years DRW has hired an intern from the organization to work with the Desktop Support team, but DRW’s support extends beyond this. DRW, thanks to many employees, is setting up a computer lab, the first one of its kind for Year Up across all its branches in the U.S.
It all began with some water-cooler chat among two employees about how one was volunteering his time at Year Up. He explained how the organization does not have many resources or experienced persons who know the Mac environment and had to bring in some Macs from DRW just to give the students some hands-on experience and context around what he was discussing in his lectures.
Feeling inspired, his colleague wanted to help and asked where he could be of the most help. It turned out coding was something they needed dearly. When he got to their office, however, they didn’t have lab workstations where they could implement changes. They only had the shared workstation environment where students could not make the changes necessary to facilitate interactive lab functionality. Not an ideal way to learn or perfect coding skills.
The duo approached a few key people at DRW to see how they could improve the PC situation at Year Up. By the end of the day they had 20 workstations, two servers, and two switches. Together this creates the condition for a fine computer lab that allows students to learn how to configure their own domain on a private virtual network and the opportunity for Year Up to enhance their curriculum to college level. The team also received a donation of eight Macs so they could setup a small Mac lab.
“It wasn’t only the generosity but the speed with which all the various IT teams were willing to help with this cause that really got us,” they said.
The labs will empower instructors to adjust their curriculum as needed – tailoring to Year Up’s corporate partners in areas they are working in. They will also be able to respond to needs based on the feedback they get from all their corporate partners.
The Chicago lab will serve as a proof of concept so Year Up can secure additional funding to bring these computer labs to each of its locations. While the goal is to help students learn in an environment befitting their field of study, it will also provide companies hiring these students with interns who can properly execute the tasks asked of them because they have proper training mixed with real life practice.
The team has already dropped off the equipment at Year Up and project having the full lab set-up ready for curriculum use by the end of October.