In Build Challenge, students race to build computers, save the world

Jon Kelvey
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

It's not clear how it ended exactly, the world. But what a group of a few dozen teens do know is that while they have been hiding from the roving zombie hordes, others like them have been attempting to reboot the internet, and with it human civilization.

There’s no Google, no smartphones. Just a pile of recycled electronics, advice coming from another group on a HAM radio, and their ingenuity …

At least, that’s the idea behind an upcoming competition for high school-aged teens: The first Build Challenge, scheduled for Sept. 15, in Frederick, will pit 12 teams of two to three teens against each other in a race to build a working computer, not from scratch, but from scrap. It’s a joint presentation of the Westminster-based, nonprofit Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, or MAGIC, and e-End Secure Data Destruction & Electronics Recycling, which provides data secure recycling of hard drives and other electronics in Frederick.

“e-End does recycling and it has this huge warehouse that has pallets and pallets of recycled parts,” said Amy Rupp, executive director of MAGIC, or Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory. “We will have parts set aside for the students to be able to go through and put together a computer.”

Some of those parts may be useful, and others, not so much, Rupp said. There will be offered clues along the way to the eventual goal of connecting their newly built computer to the actual internet.

But that’s the only time the Web will be allowed to be utilized in the contest.

“The people that were a part of creating this event, they were really strong about saying that they didn’t want students to be able to access any resources,” Rupp said. “They can’t use their phones. They can’t call a friend.”

There will, however, be volunteers on hand to help out if teams get totally stuck, she said; it is considered an entry level competition.

MAGIC works to see technology and tech ventures grow in the region, Rupp said, and she sees activities such as the Build Challenge as providing opportunities for youths interested in technology that are sometimes lacking.

“One of the things we often hear from students is that if you are interested in sports, there are lots of things you can do,” she said. “If you are into tech, there is not as much to do.”

The competition will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at e-End’s facility at 7118 Geoffrey Way, Frederick, and is free and open to students in ninth through 12th grade.

But with a limit of just 12 teams of two to three students, Rupp said, those interested should register now at https://magicinc.org/our-events.


If you go

What: Project eReboot Computer Building Challenge

When: 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday Sept. 15

Where: e-End Secure Data Destruction & Electronics Recycling, 7118 Geoffrey Way, Frederick

Cost: Free

Space is limited to 12 teams of two to three students so early registration is encouraged. Visit magicinc.org/event/project-ereboot-computer-building-challenge to learn more or to register.


jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com

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