Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Ghedion Beyen is a junior at Forest Park High School, and Khoi Nguyen is a junior at Osbourn Park High School. Together, they have used their talents in engineering and technology to refurbish computers and distribute them to families who do not have computers at home. Both students also attend the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park. This partial-day academic year Governor’s School program has a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
The students created their own organization, the Free and Accessible Technology Initiative (FATI). From their website: “At its core, the Free and Accessible Technology Initiative is committed to ensuring all students regardless of socioeconomic status get the unalienable right of computer and internet access.” Using their knowledge and passion for technology, they have addressed a critical problem in the community.
About the Initiative
Beyen, the chief executive officer behind the initiative, was recently interviewed by WUSA 9. He said, “As schools transitioned to an online learning environment, we noticed that more and more people were going without technology in their home… [T]hat sparked the innovative idea for our organization.”
“We would just like to contribute back to the community that we grew up in,” said Nguyen, the organization’s chief operating officer.
Their innovative organization removes economic barriers by providing free and refurbished computers. Notably, their goodwill goes beyond just the refurbished computers.
“It is basically a care package. We add in a wireless mouse, a laptop sleeve, Google Home, refurbish it, download Microsoft Office, Word, and Powerpoint on all of them,” said Beyen.
Together, the students worked to overcome an obstacle as a result of new distance learning by helping families have access to the right technology. As a result, they directly help their classmates have what they need to continue learning from home. These students’ efforts are an example of out-of-the box thinking and empathetic response brought about by the challenges posed by the coronavirus. Learn more about the Free and Accessible Technology Initiative.