February, 2000

Don't Give Computers the Boot

By Nordahl Flakstad

Businesses, governments and other organizations, including APEGGA, are helping students by recycling computers through the Computers for Schools program.

Before you give that not-quite-state-of-the-art computer the heave -- hold it! Through Computers for Schools there may be a hereafter for those central processors, colour monitors, keyboards and printers you thought had reached the end of their cyber existence.

APEGGA, as a result of a motion approved at the November Council meeting, has become an official supporter of Computers for Schools, started in 1993. The program encourages public and private sector agencies and businesses to donate used office computer equipment to be recycled and refurbished for use in schools and libraries. An outgrowth of Industry Canada, with the active involvement of the Telephone Pioneers, the program has expanded to include participation and support by provincial governments. It now operates refurbishing and distribution sites across the country.

Lucien Villeneuve, explains that some 175,000 computers have been recycled as a result of the program and there is a target of 250,000 to be reached by April of next year. The program manager for the Alberta Computers for Schools Program is quick to add that "we're not a junk dealer" and, generally speaking, the search is on for equipment that has been in use for two to three years. For that reason, the program has shied away from accepting older "home" computers, which tend on average to be 10 years old when they are replaced.

However, Mr. Villeneuve believes the continuing need for engineering and geoscience firms to upgrade their equipment make them ideal potential contributors. And he stresses: "Please send us your discarded Pentiums. In that way, you will significantly help Alberta students."

After all, the idea is to provide students, teachers, librarians and library users with fairly current equipment rather than antiques. For that reason, the program has set an old-end cut-off at 486 vintage and better PCs (and equivalent Macs). The greatest interest is in Pentiums, particularly low-end versions, which increasingly are being replaced in government and corporate settings.

The largest of the four Alberta workshops is located in downtown Edmonton; there are two in Calgary -- including one in Ernest Manning High School -- and a fourth at Lethbridge Community College. At the workshops, the equipment is checked over, erased of all non-operating systems, and cleaned up for delivery to schools as individual, refurbished PCs, or upgraded units with Pentium or CD-ROM (if the school pays for the components). A third alternative has the refurbished equipment readied to serve within a school as part of a network or lab using a Pentium server. The last approach has particular benefits, explains Mr. Villeneuve. "If we give a network or lab to schools, these systems can go for quite a while because (the schools) can do upgrades themselves."

Computers for Schools is set up as a non-profit organization and soon hopes to recognize contributions (Pentiums and other newer equipment) with tax receipts.

APEGGA will be following up on the November Council decision by donating some units from the Association's offices and will further encourage individual members and Permit-holding firms to associate themselves with Computers for Schools.

According to APEGGA Executive Director and Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng.: "Computers for Schools ties nicely in with several APEGGA objectives supporting improved science and computer literacy among the public and, especially, among students at all levels." (see Executive Directors Notes)

For more information about Computers for Schools, check the website http:/ or dial 1-888-636-9899. In Alberta, contact Program Manager Alberta Computers for Schools Lucien Villeneuve by phone 780-427-9002, fax 780-415-1091 or e-mail

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