A University of Iowa project that aims to connect remote regions of the world to everyone else via the Internet is taking another big leap today (Saturday). Mary Abboud, communications director of the WiderNet Project, says they’re calling in volunteers to help assemble and test a mountain of computer gear, all of it donated by businesses and individuals from across Iowa. Abboud hopes many volunteers will show up, take the donated computers and monitors, clean them up, check them over and test them out thoroughly. The volunteers will then help bubblewrap and box the piles of computers in crates for shipment to Africa. She says WiderNet has a multi-faceted goal — training technicians in foreign lands, coaching university decisionmakers abroad about the value of the Internet, increasing bandwidth, providing a wealth of research about technology and finally, transporting and installing the donated computer equipment. Instead of just sending the computers over there, the U-of-I project provides the training and technicians and a digital library for people there to use since Internet access is limited in Africa. The project has also extended its reach to several other continents and, closer to home, on the island nation of Haiti.
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