Washington Co. intern is future of technology

February 03, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Michael Cook said he didn't know anything about computers before he started attending Washington County Technical High School two years ago.

Now, less than six months from graduating, he is poised to get a job fixing them.

The 17-year-old senior from Sharpsburg is an intern with the information technology department at Washington County Public Schools.

He is spending a few days per week this semester shadowing technicians as they repair computers and other equipment at the county's public schools.

The technicians do a variety of repairs, including replacing parts, reloading software and troubleshooting network problems.

They are responsible for the school system's 5,500 desktop computers and 1,000 laptops. In addition, they repair interactive "whiteboards," keypad response systems, interactive tablets and other electronic learning equipment, Cook said.

"It's really a lot of fun. Everyone who works here is really laid-back and helpful," Cook said.

The school system has had an intern program in its information technology department for a couple of years, according to Telecommunications Network Manager David L. Mundey.


He said it offers students a chance to see firsthand the kind of work they can do after school and gives the department a kind of recruiting class.

"These are, in a lot of cases, the kids that will be the future of the tech department," Mundey said.

Mundey said the technology used in public schools has improved exponentially.

"It wasn't too long ago we didn't even have WAN," said Mundey, referring to the wide-area network that offers an Internet connection to all the county's public schools.

In the last few years, classrooms have added electronic devices such as keypad response systems that allow students to answer quiz questions by pressing a button and then see everyone's answers on a screen in front of the class.

Interactive whiteboards have allowed teachers to use computer-based resources such as maps or Internet sites to enhance lessons.

Interns like Cook often are better prepared to fix problems with the machines because they have grown up with them.

"Kids in the school system now have a knack for these things," said Mundey, who has worked in the technology department for 14 years.

Cook, who lives near Sharpsburg, said he likely will interview for a full-time job with the school system's information technology department after he graduates this year.

He said college is an option, but the internship and classes he has taken at tech high school have prepared him for a job.

"I might go to college, but I'll have experience and certifications after I graduate. I've saved a lot of money, that's for sure," Cook said.

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