Fossil Ridge High School junior Ryan Harty has a knack for computers and engineering. Consequently, when he was asked to work as a technical assistant to help students with their computer problems, he jumped at the opportunity.
“Basically this is my passion. I thought it would be cool to help people and get more experience,” he said.
Harty is one of five students providing technical support to other students with laptop problems. The new tech assistant program at Fossil is designed to support Poudre School District’s laptop distribution to students. PSD began checking out new laptop computers in 2011 to freshmen at all district high schools in an effort to equip students with 21st century skills. The laptops, funded by mill and bond dollars approved in 2010, are checked out each year to the incoming class of freshmen for their entire four years of high school.
The tech assistants are available to help students five hours a day in the Media Center. The student tech assistant jobs are managed through the high school PaCE (Professional and Community Experience) program, allowing the young computer technicians to earn high school credit, money and job experience. In addition to Harty, Fossil juniors Peter Flickinger and Blake Thompson, along with seniors Josh King and Matt Yonkaitis work as tech assistants.
“This is a chance for these students to apply what they’ve learned about computers to an actual position.” said Tanya Alcaraz, FRHS teacher and PaCE coordinator. “The goal is for them to provide technical assistance to their peers. If they can’t fix the problem, then it is their job to ship it back to Dell.”
“I anticipate several software glitches and quite a few breaks from people dropping stuff,” said Harty. “Most of the problems may be fairly simple. We’ll ask them if they’ve tried rebooting, which fixes 90 percent of the problems.”
Alcaraz, who manages the tech assistant program with FRHS technology manager Frank Moster, said students were recruited to apply for the tech positions based on the high school courses they have taken and teacher recommendations.
“We looked at students who have taken a spectrum of technology classes. We made sure they had a passion and a desire and that they were successful here in the building before we hired them,” said Alcaraz. “We have really good kids and they are super excited about this.”
The student tech assistants recently completed a week-long Dell training course and are currently in the process of earning Google certification, as well as A+ certification, which demonstrates competency as a computer technician.
Alcaraz said the program is based on a similar program in Pueblo and may eventually be expanded district-wide to the other high schools.