Harper College Introduces ‘Computer Classroom on Wheels’

Catch a ride this summer on Harper College’s new innovation: a charter bus turned computer classroom.
Harper The adventurers at Harper College are hitting the road this summer on a new set of wheels: a charter bus turned computer classroom

There’s something driving the excitement at Harper College this summer, and you can catch a ride on this new innovation: a charter bus turned computer classroom. The state-of-the-art Harper College Mobile Unit is a computer classroom on wheels, ready to travel to any location to provide online testing, workforce development and community outreach.

“It’s a very new concept to us,” said Martha Karavitis-Hemmati of Harper CE Computer Training. “This is the first bus in the nation that’s outfitted for workforce certification, including testing, online assessments, career guidance services and job recruitment programs.” 

The idea for the 40-foot, federally funded mobile unit came through an advanced manufacturing initiative that Harper College started up a couple years ago.

“We received a federal grant to develop a mobile testing center that could go to various companies and test employees on certain manufacturing exams,” she said. As the plans grew, so did the ideas. “Now, we’re working with groups like Pearson VUE and CompTIA and trying to find ways to offer certification testing on the bus.”

The bus arrived on the Harper College campus on May 5. When it’s ready to roll out, the bus will be a rentable, shared resource for the community, as well as public and academic partners. Families with high school students planning on attending college, for example, would be invited on the bus for an introduction to FAFSA, followed by training and application filing for free federal student aid.

“The audience we want to cater to is the student,” she said. Harper College is targeting the academic audience, high school and college students, as well as younger folks to incite interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. “We also want to cater to the local community, not-for-profits, community service groups and private organizations.”

The Harper bus features 13 workstations angled toward flat-screen panels where instructors can project presentations and demonstrations. Each of the workstations is outfitted with a Dell computer with access to Windows 7 and Microsoft Office and networked printing. The mobile unit also features an ADA-compliant workstation, and an interview room with workstation and privacy door.

The bus features a 40-inch HD 1080p flat panel LED TV for group viewing, a 12.5 kilowatt generator, a climate-controlled environmental system, an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift, a retractable canvas awning, GPS instrumentation, an audio-video system, Internet connectivity up to 4G speeds and an HP-3015 printer.

Harper College will be taking it on the road to local community events throughout the summer, with an official launch planned for the fall. Look forward to a virtual online tour, as well, if you can’t see it in person. A versatile resource, the bus can be used to:

  • Run learning and testing events at remote sites.
  • Provide Internet access at outreach events, job fairs, conferences and trade shows.
  • Expand a company’s options for providing skills training when it doesn’t have the space.
  • Enable certification testing onsite for employees or prospective new hires.
  • Facilitate HR programs that process large groups at career and recruiting fairs or compliance seminars.
  • Provide event support for emergency response assistance, adult education programs and community outreach and partnership events.

The bus requires a parking space that accommodates a 40-foot vehicle that weighs in at about 26,000 pounds. There are no restroom facilities on the mobile unit. A small refrigerator is available for bottled water; no other food or beverages are allowed on the bus.

If you think the mobile bus might help your business with training or testing, submit an online request form and work with the staff at Harper College to iron out the details. You can schedule an event to happen the same day of each month, as long as prior commitments allow. Costs are still being determined. Visit the Harper College website to read more about the bus. For rental information, call (847) 925-6066 or email wcctesting@harpercollege.edu.

Michelle Peterson is CompTIA's communications specialist.

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