[ ][ ]On such effort is the Phoenix Project of the Maryland Education Department. The project refurbishes donated computers and provides them to individual students, schools and education-based community groups. The effort receives a number of its machines from a program sponsored by the Maryland Highway Administration.
[ ][ ]The highway administration is required to recycle a certain portion of its waste, donating thousands of computers because it upgrades its equipment at regular intervals.
[ ][ ]"We have a four-year replacement cycle for the computers, a six-year replacement cycle for our printers, and a three-year replacement cycle for our servers," said David Buck, an administration spokesman.
[ ][ ]Buck estimated that the Phoenix Project received 871 of the 2,117 computers the agency donated to schools statewide last year. Those contributions help the Phoenix Project give away 2,000 machines every year -- and more than 20,000 since its inception in 1993.
[ ][ ]"We gave 600 computers to Carroll County, which they put in every middle school that wasn't a brand-new school," said Darla Strouse, the education department's executive director of corporate sponsorships. "Their science classrooms are just replete with computers -- and they have adopted a whole software-system approach to teaching. Probably every community has gotten computers from us."
[ ][ ]Whether it's recycling, donating or storing machines -- the problem of what to do with aging computer equipment cannot be ignored, said Fevenko, the Jessup computer salvager.
[ ][ ]"If it's not done, and everyone doesn't get on this bandwagon, you're going to mess this environment up worse than it already is," he said. "And it's getting bad out there."