GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Do you have a broken or outdated computer you're ready to part ways with? If so, you might consider giving it to Doug Beach's computer repair class at the Career Center, an alternative Mesa County Valley School District school.
Computer repair is one of nine vocational programs offered at the high school, located at 2935 North Ave. Students from across the Grand Valley attend one of three one-hour, 50-minute sessions taught each day at the school.
"We get computers donated to us, and we try and fix them," Beach said. "We repair, refurbish and then we give them away, or sell them cheaply."
Refurbished computers are either donated or sold inexpensively to vocational rehabilitation clients, people with limited incomes, and sometimes students.
"We start out learning about various hardware, different parts of the computer, and computer safety and how to protect your computer from potential problems - from power surges, electrical discharges," Beach said.
Students, under the guidance of Beach and two teacher assistants, Jeff Jenco and Pat Johnston, also repair community members' personal computers for a small fee. Oftentimes, people bring in computers that have acquired viruses, Beach said.
"Sometimes we have to re-install the operating system," he said. "We fix hardware, replace components."
This week, students began work building a computer from donated components that had been refurbished.
Students earn three elective credits after one year. If they continue a second year, students can earn two elective credits and a half credit each in both math and language arts. Three elective credits are available the third year.
When students repeat the course they have the opportunity to pursue A+ certification - a valued computer technician certification, Beach said.
"It's a good entry-level certification if you want to be a computer technician," Beach said. "It's a challenging field."
Many students take the class simply to be able to resolve computer problems at home, he said.
"They're learning quite a lot, at least that's what I think is happening," Beach said.
James Tiffin, 16, who attends Fruita Monument High School classes in the morning and the Career Center program in the afternoon, said he's learned to interpret computer codes, and can troubleshoot computer problems and has been able to get rid of viruses and repair other problems.
"I love it," Tiffin, a second-year student, said.
Tiffin said he foresees a computer-related career - either in the video game business, or working as a "handyman computer guy."
Students spend time between the computer lab, where they work on the computers, and a classroom, where Beach assigns topics that require Internet research. One recent assignment involved researching price tags for refurbished computers. Students then averaged those numbers to help determine a price for selling their own computers.
Student Dakota Petruzzi, 17, said he'd always been interested in computers and needed a second placement class when he learned about the Career Center's computer repair class.
"I really like it," Petruzzi said. "It's really a helpful class. It gives an insight on how computers are made. I'm building my skills."
People who have a computer they'd like to donate to the school can call 970-254-6038.