Wanted: Geeks and Nerds to Join This Club

Published on January 30, 2014 by arothstein

(MERIDIAN) What is the difference between a geek and a nerd?  A group of students and instructors who make up the Computer Club at Broadview University-Boise campus will tell you it can be determined by two things: where you hangout online and whether or not you have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Josh (right), an information technology program student, walks Computer Club members through a server’s operating system installation process while instructor David Thompson (left) helps lead the troubleshooting analysis.

“Geeks have social skills,” Jerry, a student in the information technology program, said. “Nerds clearly do not.”

Another student adds that geeks have girlfriends who appear in person—not just in the virtual world. But no matter which one you are, both geeks and nerds are wanted to join this club.

On this day, the campus computer club is engaged in geek-like activities in Room #208. Seven students and two instructors are socializing—roaming about the room munching on pizza and nachos. Everyone is watching as one student works to install an operating system on a classroom server.

“Tonight the students are doing a hands-on demo,” Doug Miller, the IT program chair, says. “Josh is up there—walking through it step-by-step—verbally explaining and showing the others what it takes to get the server up and running.”

As Josh quietly, and at times not so quietly, works in the corner—booting and rebooting the system—Miller explains that the server is designed for students to touch and play with, and that it has no real function or effect on the campus’s operations. In the middle of the trial run, a disk error occurs. While Josh works to determine the error, one of the instructors says, “Uh oh. Something went wrong. Let’s all analyze this.”

Jackie (left), a veteran information technology student, says working through a practice scenario is okay, but it becomes a real problem when you have to deliver it to a real customer the next day.

As the other students in the room attempt to help troubleshoot what happened, the group learns the valuable lesson of thoroughly reading all instructions. Problem solved, he continues to load the server with information. A few minutes later, another error occurs. This problem has Josh quickly moving from a standing position to one that has him down on the floor.

“Josh, what are you doing,” an instructor says. A slightly muffled voice can be heard behind the server, “I pulled the wrong cord.”

A short time later, that problem is fixed and Josh is back at work. A fellow student jokingly says the tenth time is charm and what we are seeing is fairly typical of IT work.

“There’s this thing called dumb luck,” Josh says. “In this case, I tried the USB port in the back of the server and it worked.”

“It’s okay when it’s a practice scenario,” Jackie Davidson, a veteran information technology student, said. “But it’s a real problem when you have to deliver it the next day.”

Along with practice scenarios and playing with the server, the club is looking for two things: more students to join in and real computers to work on. Miller is hoping that people with dead or sick computers will bring them in so club members can get some more invaluable, real-world training from both a social and technical perspective. In other words, more toys for geeks and nerds alike.

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