PennTAP partnership trains students, helps businesses gain broadband

Pennsylvania businesses can obtain assistance with setting up websites, using social media and improving Internet, cell phone and computer usage through Advanced Information Technology Solutions (ITS) from the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) at Penn State.

In this program, PennTAP experts help businesses, such as technology firms, municipalities and others, more fully utilize broadband and all that it offers. Through a partnership with Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology, students get real-world experience and get paid as they assist participating businesses.

This summer, Penn State students worked 30 hours per week for 10 weeks at six Pennsylvania business locations, including State College, Cooksburg, Grove City and York. PennTAP and participating businesses split the cost of paying the interns, thanks in part to a federal grant, said Donna Yale, senior technical specialist with PennTAP.

"Over the course of the project's funding period, we hope to place student interns in 40 businesses," Yale said, adding that funding lasts until December 2014.

Deb Adams, owner of Gateway Lodge, Spa and Restaurant in Cooksburg, tucked away in rural Cook Forest State Park, hired two interns to work on getting faster Internet service and clearer cell phone reception.

"Five years ago we could sell people on the fact that we are just a great place to stay, and that it's quiet," Adams said. "Now, the first two questions we get are: 'How great is your cell phone reception?,' and 'How fast is your high-speed Internet service?'"

Gateway interns Greg Wenner, 19, and Andy Glass, 21, are improving existing broadband connections but some issues are unresolved. Certain fiber-optic links aren't available there.

For now, the office network topology — how computers, printers and other devices are connected — will be set up by interns for future IST technicians, Wenner said.

"They will be able to tell what the network is doing, how it works and how they can control it easily," he said.

Glass said he gained valuable workplace experience at Gateway.

"This is giving me the opportunity to find out what I'm going to be doing in the workplace," he said.

To watch a video on this unique PennTAP program, click /video/147544/2013/02/08/video-no-title online.

For more information, visit PennTAP at http://penntap.psu.edu/ online.

The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) engages, guides and empowers businesses and organizations throughout the Commonwealth and beyond by providing objective, strategic and experience-based technical and workforce solutions that enable clients to succeed and thrive. PennTAP is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Many experts agree that high speed internet is a must for businesses hoping to be successful. Now The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program at Penn State is helping small Pennsylvania businesses get online and grow through an internship program offered at Penn State. 

Last Updated August 21, 2012