ReSET job training program provides free training for green centered technology fields

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“A piece of cake,” Lonnie Hinkle said as completing a Windows 7 installation, with a smile. Chris Talman starts his installation next, his connection with technology stemming to a more philosophical want of understanding tools. Nikki Sayward examined the inside of a computer, her excitement for technology connected to a desire for entrepreneurial success.

Students in the ReSET Job Training Program offered by Finger Lakes ReUse have different motivations for joining the work share program, but their love of technology and its environmental impacts is a common thread, Anise Hotchkiss, community programs coordinator, said.

Out of the 95 technology-training programs in NY state listed on the Computer Training Schools database, only the ReSET program had a focus on environmental responsibility.

“On the whole, [ReSET is] setting a standard of looking at jobs in an environmental context and seeing that there is a lot of possibility at changing the way we run our industries and making them more sustainable programs,” Hotchkiss said.

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The computer and information technology industry employed more than 1.5 million people in 2011. However, the waste that this industry is producing comes with the challenge of protecting human health and the environment from potential harmful effects of poorly managed manufacturing and disposal of these products, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Daniel Adinolfi, senior security engineer at Cornell University’s IT Security Office and instructor for ReSET, said job training like ReSET is necessary to create information technology professionals with environmentally responsible mindsets.

“We cannot be a country of consumers, unable to fix our own devices and only waiting for other people to tell us what to make, what to buy, and what to do with it,” said Adinolfi. “We need people who can both dive down into the fine details of technology while also appreciating the big-picture aspects of the use of those technologies.”

The training has two different program tracks: sustainable construction or computer technology, said. ReSET students attend classes for 13 weeks at the ReUse Center for 16 hours per week. Successful participants have the potential to move toward a full time, 15 week paid apprenticeship, receiving a guaranteed interview for a position in a related field.

Hinkle said he has not only learned technical skills, but that his understanding of e-waste and the importance of recycling has grown from the program.

“When I go to throw something away, it’s like ‘wait a minute’ is this trash or is this recycle? Where I did not have that mindset before,” Hinkle said.

Consciousness about disposable products is vital to the planet, said Chris Martin, Brightworks Computer Consulting and instructor for ReSet.

“I think folks are beginning to focus on getting more use out of our existing resources and making our equipment last longer, doing more with less,” Martin said.

ReUse receives 30 to 60 computers per month, according to the center. Of that number, they refurbish approximately 40 to 60 percent of the donations. The remainder is salvaged for reusable parts.

The Computer All Star Program through the Ithaca Youth Bureau, a similar program to ReSET geared toward youth, was created to recycle computers and teach youth how to do basic repairs, according to Marty Schreiber, IYB community programs coordinator. In 12 years, the program gave out over 1,100 computers to families. However, the program will soon be phased out from IYB.

Schreiber said summer programs will still be offered to youth interested in gaining these skill sets at Finger Lakes ReUse.

“Teaching children how to do that is making them better stewards of our planet and they can pass it on to their children and it becomes a way of life so that its not such a struggle anymore,” Schreiber said.

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