Computer Rescue Squad

February 2012

Materials Engineering student Joshua Kyle, coordinator of Reboot McGill, and Civil Engineering student Cyrille Couture, Reboot McGill's manager." (Photo - Owen Egan)

This past winter McGill’s library system replaced more than 60 computers. A couple of years ago they would have become e-waste, with some parts recycled and the rest discarded.

But these machines will find new life thanks to Reboot McGill, a student initiative funded by the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) that is dedicated to rebuilding discarded computers for reuse.

“McGill’s Waste Management Services brings us used PCs from around the University,” says Joshua Kyle, the fourth-year Materials Engineering student who is Reboot McGill’s coordinator.

“First, we wipe the hard drives to remove all the data. Then one of Reboot McGill’s 15 or so members – undergraduate engineering students who come in each week – make minor repairs and install a new operating system.” Reboot McGill uses a free open-source operating system, Ubuntu, to avoid costly licensing fees.

Once revitalized, the equipment is ready for new homes. Individual students, as well as on-campus groups, clubs, organizations, design teams, professors and staff members, are the first priority, but the computers have also been donated off-campus to schools and non-profit organizations in Montreal.

Last year Reboot McGill gave away 105 rebuilt computers, as well as screens and keyboards, during the four months the project was in operation. “The numbers aren’t in yet for this year,” Kyle says, “but we’re always able to move them out the door soon after they arrive.”

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