By Courtney Searcy, Online Editor
Slow or virus-infected computers can be frustrating and expensive to repair. One campus organization offers low-cost solutions to students.
The Association of Computer Machinery offers diagnostic testing and computer repair to the Union University community.
Dr. Max Haifei Li, associate professor of computer science and faculty adviser for the association, said the organization offers the same services as businesses such as Best Buy’s Geek Squad but at much lower prices.
All services cost less than $100.
The organization began the repair service in 2009 after Li started teaching a course called Computer Care and Maintenance.
When Li was assigned to teach the class, he had little experience with the subject. Most of his knowledge was in the realm of software and computer programming.
“I was a little bit scared, because I didn’t know how to do that. But of course, all professors have to learn new things,” Li said. “Before, I really didn’t touch the computers to see what is in the computer, or how to fix the computer, or the hard drive or the memory.”
However, he quickly found an affinity for the subject as he prepared to teach the class by reading books and then disassembling and rebuilding old computers.
As he taught the course, Li realized students could apply what they were learning in class by repairing computers on campus.
Students have since repaired hundreds of computers and benefited both financially and intellectually. They receive 50 percent of the repair fee, and the association receives the remaining funds.
Alexander Roberts, junior computer science major, is enrolled in Li’s class this semester and has learned everything from removing a virus from a computer, a common customer dilemma, to more difficult tasks.
“He stepped us through the process of removing the viruses and the different steps. So I took the computer, and I actually took what I learned from the class and applied it to fix the computer. It was an eye-opening experience,” Roberts said.
“I learned something, I fixed a computer and I got $40— so it was a nice little exchange.”
Li also began a personal business called Computer Oil Change after realizing that the Jackson community could benefit from low-cost computer care and maintenance.
Although most people know their car needs regular maintenance, they do not realize their computer also needs to be checked regularly to run properly, he said.
“The computer needs regular maintenance because after one or two years, you install lots of software and make the computer very messy,” Li said.
Repairing computer problems is not always simple, however, and sometimes the work is as much a learning process for Li as it is for his students.
“You have to be humble. Even for me sometimes, things may or may not work … Of course, I know that it should work but when you actually put things together you can’t guarantee it works,” Li said.