Penn Team to Help Build Ghana’s IT Infrastructure
Engineering students and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and an African university have received a donation of Hewlett-Packard equipment and services valued at $1.12 million to establish a high-speed information and communication infrastructure in Ghana. The initiative is believed to be the most extensive international digital divide effort undertaken by an American institution of higher education.
The Hewlett-Packard award, to be administered jointly by Penn and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), will develop a computing infrastructure at KNUST and computer centers in eastern Ghana, including the nation’s second-largest city of Kumasi. Hewlett-Packard will work with KNUST and Ghana Telecom in the next few months to put in place high-speed fiber optic lines.
“Few events have a more positive effect on a community than the arrival of digital technology and the Web; they are the loudest heralds of progress and global inclusion,” says Penn engineering Dean Eduardo D. Glandt. “This program will empower individuals and change their lives. We are extremely fortunate to be able to participate in it.”
This summer, a team of Penn engineering undergraduates will travel to Ghana to offer instruction to trainers on basic computer use, systems administration and computer repair and maintenance. This summer’s efforts will build upon a 30-station computer lab created at KNUST last summer by Penn engineering and KNUST students using technology donated to Penn by national and local businesses.
Over the past three years, Penn engineering students and their professors have created computer laboratories in four developing nations as well as impoverished areas of the university’s home city, Philadelphia. Since the first computer center was built three years ago in Ecuador, 60 Penn undergraduates have traveled overseas to help set up facilities there and in India, Mali and Ghana.
“In addition to enabling our undergraduates to gain a priceless educational experience, we regard this as a small way for Penn Engineering to serve the global community,” says Joseph Sun, the school’s director of academic affairs.
Sun has spearheaded the school’s
technology-based service learning initiatives. “This is our version of being a good citizen of the world,” he adds.
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