A local high school student taught a camp of kids how to build computers in an effort to modernize a Paducah computer lab Saturday.

Led by Jake Taylor, an incoming senior at Paducah Tilghman High School, the free workshop saw nine participants learn to assemble desktop computers at Elmwood Court, a Housing Authority of Paducah property.

Taylor’s newly created nonprofit, Create a Computer, was the facilitating group. The 17-year-old, who aspires to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology for computer engineering, has been keen on computers for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve been interested in technology, video games and anything associated with electronics for a long time and I built my first computer my freshman year in high school,” he said. “I think it’s very important that people understand how valuable the skill of knowing how to build a computer is and how useful that can be to be able to fix technology and create opportunities for yourself not only to save money, but make money through that skill.”

Partially spurred by students’ needs for technology during COVID-19-mandated Non-Traditional Instruction, the project aims to give kids a way to get their schoolwork done.

“They’re designed to be very quick running systems that kids can efficiently get their homework done on. They’re made to where they’re affordable gaming computers as well,” Taylor said. “These computers can be taken advantage of this school year for online learning.”

Funded through donations and sponsorships, the camp was hopefully the first of many for Create a Computer.

Tommy Hollimon, the executive director of HAP, was over the moon about the project.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Jake came to us, we didn’t ask for it. I just think it’s fantastic.”

A social media post from the HAP after the camp praised Taylor and the program: “These computers will replace decade-old computers and remain at the computer lab to be used for after school learning and gaming. Such an amazing learning experience for those that attended and opportunities for the future to come.

“Jake is an amazing and bright young man and we are grateful for his dedication to the youth and the future of technology.”

Future programs, which Taylor hopes to continue with a focus on availability for low-income households and participants, will be advertised via Create a Computer’s social media channels.

“I would like to try and find campers that live in low income residences like Elmwood to help facilitate diverse camps and also to stimulate learning in low income neighborhoods like that.”

Taylor’s tech know-how is entirely self-taught and largely comes from YouTube, but he relished the opportunity to teach the group, which included students as young as 3rd grade and up to juniors in high school.

“It definitely puts you in the place of where a teacher would be at school and gives you a sense and an appreciation of what they do every day, their patience and willingness to help you learn.”

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