Students in Computing, Cloud Course (COM 473), conducted an electronic-waste (e-waste) drive at Hawk Hill campus from November 29 to December 1, collecting nearly 100 used electronic items including laptops, batteries, mobiles. Telephones, cameras, wires and cables.
Rachael Sullivan, Ph.D., assistant professor, and COM 473 instructor, says she wants her students to learn about how electronic waste is recycled.
“I wanted to think about how our devices are made and then where they go when they die,” Sullivan said. “So basically, figuring out the production process like infrastructure and everything that we don’t think about as communication students, but that’s part of our platform.”
Sullivan said he contacted a nonprofit electronics recycling company that provides temporary employment to citizens returning from prison. PAR-Recycle Works, or People Advancing Reintegration, collects and recycles electronics on West Hunting Park Avenue in Upper North Philadelphia.
Sullivan said she wanted to support PAR-recycling operations by collecting e-waste and arranged for her students to visit PAR-recycling operations.
“They need to look at the whole process,” Sullivan said. “We basically worked for 45 minutes [at PAR] Taking computers apart allowed them to experience what it looked like, how hard it was, and what the devices looked like inside.
Maurice Q. Jones, general manager of PAR-Recycle Works, said he wants to teach students how to disassemble computers.
“It’s not a tough job, but it’s an entry-level position that can be a catalyst for one’s employability,” Jones said in response to The Hawk’s written questions. “The hope is that they can see the value of the products and the people we serve.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 38.5% of the approximately 2.7 million tons of consumer electronics generated as municipal solid waste in 2018 were recycled.
Students from the class were divided into teams on logistics and planning, social media promotions, and presenting the results of the drive. Sullivan said it allowed students complete control of the drive and locations of the bins.
“Sometimes e-waste is properly recycled, sometimes it’s not,” Sullivan said. “That’s why I wanted to talk about it in class.”
Charlotte Ashley ’25, a student in COM 473, did social media promotions for the program and said she spread the word through various media platforms, such as Instagram, to attract more viewers. Students chose specific locations to place the bins in buildings such as Merion Hall, Bronstein Hall and the Campion Student Center.
“We wanted to choose places that were easily accessible to people on the team,” Ashley said. “Like at Bronstein, we chose the communications office, and then we chose other high-traffic areas.”
Allison Snyder ’25, another COM 473 student, said the goal of the drive was to spread the word about e-waste recycling in addition to supporting PAR-recycling jobs. The students collected about 35 cell phones, 30 laptops, 4 televisions, lots of ropes and many other electronic devices.
“We’re not only trying to raise awareness about e-waste and help people recycle it properly, but we’re also trying to support PAR and educate students and teachers about their mission and how they’re giving back to the community,” Snyder said.