(Herald & Review (Decatur, IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 03--DECATUR -- The computer science room at Heartland Technical Academy resembled Pit Row at a NASCAR race on Thursday.
Students studying for the A-Plus Certification test for computer technicians competed to see which of them was fastest at taking a working computer apart down to the last component and then putting it all back together again -- and making it work.
When teacher Amy Ferriell gave the signal to start, elbows and components started flying, and the adults, including Richland Community College teacher Joy Harvey, who teaches the college level of the same class, and Jack Adwell, Richland's dean of business and technology, laughingly dodged out of harm's way.
The adults had to verify that the students had indeed taken every component out, and that the computer worked after they put it back together.
"They have to completely dissassemble it, power, components and everything," Ferriell said. "It's kind of a fun way to do it. They always want it to be a contest."
The dual-credit course teaches students how all the computer system's components work together and if students can pass the certification test after the course, they will have national certification while they're still high school students, Harvey said.
Adwell said the ability to troubleshoot and fix computers will help the students in any career field, thanks to most companies' reliance on computers.
"It's called 'job security,'" Adwell said with a chuckle. After taking the course, he said, some of his students have come back and said they'd been made the information technology professional at their jobs.
The winner was Ethan Minich, a junior at Sangamon Valley High School, who did the entire thing in about five minutes. He was closely followed by Jamie Hanson, a junior at Eisenhower High School.
"I was about a minute behind you," she said to Ethan.
Third place was Luke Nixon, a junior at Mount Zion High School, who with his father has a pile of computers at home that the two of them have stripped down, fixed or rebuilt, including a custom computer of his own that he built for himself for Christmas.
"I just grew up with computers," he said. "I just know where everything is on a computer, but when you're under pressure, it's a lot different."
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