Like many teenage boys, Andrew Ouellette is a gamer. So, the 15-year-old from Holyoke jumped at the chance to build his own, powerful desktop computer in a summer youth class at Holyoke Community College.
"I wanted a good gaming computer I could play video games on," he said.
After the one-week program ended Friday (July 20), Ouellette and the other five boys in the class each took home a new computer they had built themselves -- along with the knowledge and confidence about what's inside and how it works.
"It was easier than I thought," said Ouellette, who enjoys games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo III. "When you see all these wires, you think, where do all these wires go? There are all these pieces that can break. So, it's a little intimidating."
The class was taught by Stan Prager, president of GoGeeks! Computer Rescue in East Longmeadow, a home and business computer consultant. He said someone with experience can build a computer from its component parts in about 45 minutes. Prager now considers the boys who attended his class among the initiated.
On the first day of class, after a short lecture, Prager passed around individual computer components, so everyone would be able to identify them. One of the parts was a graphics card that makes the animation of a video game come alive. "No one knew what it was," Prager said.
They do now.
The rest of the first day was spent taking an old computer apart until there was nothing left inside. "Going through the reverse process made the whole thing make much more sense," Prager said.
In addition to a non-credit course fee of $159, each students was required to buy a computer kit with a choice between an AMD Athlon X3 455 processor ($499) and one with an Intel Core I-5 processor ($650), not including a monitor.
Over the course of the next three days, the computers were built one at a time, in sequence, by each student, with Prager guidling assembly while the rest of the students observed. By the time he had watched the others build their PCs, 16-year-old Jack Burke, from Holyoke, knew exactly what to do.
"It took me about 45 minutes," he said.
After assembly, the next step was to turn them on. "The amazing thing is they all booted up," Prager said. Following that, the boys spent the rest of the week installing the Windows 7 operating system, drivers for their graphics cards, utilities, security software and then upgrading their programs.
"Everybody here is a gamer and already knew what upgrades they wanted to install," Prager said.
The computer building class was new this summer, just one of many youth programs and other non-credit classes for adults offered through HCC's business & Community Services Division. For a full listing of course offerings for the summer and fall semester, click here.
Photos: (Left) Kyle Wright, 14, of West Springfield, puts the final touches on his new computer. (Right) Andrew Ouellette, 15, of Holyoke, examines the internal components of the computer he built as classmates look on.