By Lesia Winiarskyj

On Aug. 24, a team of 19 employees from Northeast Utilities' information technology department participated in a special United Way "Day of Caring" at Hartford Public High School and the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology (AoEGT). NU employees performed a massive, one-day installation of computer hardware and software in time for the school year that began on Monday, Aug. 30.

Although United Way's official Day of Caring occurs later in the fall, this important school mission couldn't wait.

Over the summer, Dr. Jill Carey, principal of AoEGT, asked the academy's advisory board for help in updating the school's computers. Hundreds of laptops and desktop PCs needed to be imaged (backed up) and configured to enable scheduling, attendance tracking, and grade reporting and allow access to student information, assessment data, and class lists. With only one shared IT employee for all four of the school's academies, this would prove an overwhelming task.

Board member Mike Ahern, NU's vice president of utility services, stepped up, volunteering the company's IT staff to get all student and faculty computers up and running in time for the first day of the school year.

"This successful effort continues NU's long tradition of community service in Hartford," Ahern said.

"I could not be more appreciative of this dream team that swept into our building and in just one day readied over 300 computers for our students and teachers," says Carey. "This undoubtedly ensured the smooth opening of the school year."

Powering Up

One of the team's professionals was Carlos Branco, NU's IT security architect, for whom the day spent at Hartford Public High School was a homecoming of sorts. Branco is a member of the school's class of 1988.

"I was delighted to come back and see how much the school has evolved," he said. "As a member of the 350th graduating class, I can say that this school has a lot of personal significance for me. I can easily attribute much of my career success to some important lessons I learned at Hartford High. I can't imagine the kind of person I would have become without this rich inner-city experience; I know I've become a better person because of it."

Working with school district IT representative Jared Flagg, the NU group was able to set up far beyond their goal of 150 new computers. In fact, they were able to help other areas of the school with their IT infrastructure needs, setting up and deploying nearly 250 PCs, 50 Macs, and 14 iMacs.

"The experience was a positive one that allowed us to capitalize on the knowledge and diversity of experienced NU IT professionals and their willing energy," said Flagg. "Chemistry and organization in one package is hard to find, and we struck gold."

"This was just one example of how partnerships between the public and private sectors can create win-win situations and benefit different constituencies," says Dayl Walker, program manager for CBIA's Education Foundation and a member of AoEGT's advisory board.

To find out how your business can help improve Connecticut's schools, email dayl.walker@cbia.com or call (860) 244-1935.

Editor's note: At the invitation of Dr. Steven Adamowski, Hartford's superintendent of schools, CBIA's Education Foundation helped create the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School. CBIA staff and member companies, along with community members, parents, students, and faculty at the high school, college, and university levels, worked to plan and design this small learning community and continue to be actively engaged in the school's programs and activities.

For updates on CBIA's education and workforce development programs, visit cbia.com/edf.

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer/editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.