In 1999, IBM Thinkpads influenced learning and service at the inaugural Pennsylvania Governor's School of Information Technology. This year, the devices are again expected to be pivotal to the experience of the academically talented high-school students expected to take part June 25 through July 29.
The computers -- equipped with Pentium II processors, two-gigabite hard drives, and 64 megabytes of memory -- were standard issue last year for the 62 high-school juniors attending the five-week Governor's School for IT at University Park.
"The Governor's School is a signature youth outreach initiative for Penn State's School of Information Sciences and Technology," said James B. Thomas, dean of IST. "It represents a wonderful example of public-private collaboration to meet a pressing need to develop the information technology leaders of tomorrow."
The Governor's School for Information Technology was created by the administration of Gov. Tom Ridge to help address the critical international shortage of information technology professionals. A total of 128 students from across the Commonwealth took part in the inaugural program.
At Penn State, the students had a rich educational experience, taking 30 course modules from 29 faculty members across the academic spectrum. In addition, students got a taste of the "real world" of IT through field trips to such well-known firms as Unisys and Accuweather, and from guest speakers representing 3Com and the Information Technology Association of America.
Understandably, the IBM Thinkpads machines got a thorough workout -- allowing students to stay wired to one another and get things done
"The laptops helped a lot with our work," said Jonathan Hetzel of York, a Governor's School alumnus. "They were high-quality machines that we could not have gone without."
"I liked the professionalism about it," Hetzel said. "Having a real Web client who was expecting a finished product made the experience that much more valuable."
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