ITCH stands for IT Club Helpdesk. It was a student based volunteer opportunity at Penn State Dubois. Students and faculty were welcome to bring in their personal computers and have us resolve their problem. Problems could range from viruses to broken screens, to hard drive failures. We were in charge of assessing the problem, documenting our findings and research, doing as much as we could to fix the problem, and making sure that the client was satisfied with our work.

One of the biggest problem computers was an HP laptop that someone had spilled soda on. The keyboard did not work and the hard drive was near failing, but the student really needed it fixed. I was able to backup the documents and save them, but I tried for weeks at the students request to get everything working. I never did, as even drying individual components in rice did nothing to save it from the water damage. It was a challenge to work with as it required a USB keyboard and would shut off with no warning and blue screen frequently, making it difficult to troubleshoot. I believe in the end we recommended the student to either buy replacement parts or an entirely new laptop, as we had done all that we could with the tools we had. I made sure that he understood, that in this situation, it was unlikely that only one component was damaged. We didn’t have spare 2.5″ Hard drives, motherboards, or other parts to test with and it would most likely end up being a huge money sink to buy each part individuality until we had paid for another laptop in pieces.

It was astonishing the number of times students would bring in a computer that looked like it had been thrown on the side of the road, and ask us to put Windows 7 on it. We would tell them to download it through their MSDN student licence, but that it was unlikely to work because their computer only supported half a gig or ram, then to bring in the licence key if they really wanted us to put Windows 7 on the machine. No matter how fully we would explain that the computer would not support a modern OS, they would insist that we put it on, and being a customer support job, we would have to comply. We always made backups of their data and had windows XP ready for when we showed them how Windows 7 did not work as fully intended on their PC.

This volunteer position gave me a lot of face to face customer interaction, which I had never had before. It was a great learning experience and I had a lot of fun having a new mystery to solve every week day at noon.