Indiana University's Serve IT clinic shares fifth anniversary with community

Technology for Social Good event to feature students, nonprofit agencies

  • March 22, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie and the IU School of Informatics and Computing will celebrate five years of Serve IT, an innovative IT clinic led by IU students and serving the Monroe County nonprofit community.

The event, Technology for Social Good, will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at Henke Hall of Champions in IU’s Memorial Stadium. Attendees will listen to a panel discussion with students and agencies who have participated in Serve IT projects, visit poster presentations, and network with campus and community partners.

Serve IT is the bridge that connects IU students who have in-demand technology skills with nonprofit organizations that need them. Service projects have included client database integration and full website development. Serve IT enables IU students to gain real-world professional and volunteer experience.

"Last semester, Serve IT showed me that what I’m learning really is helpful," said Nicole Wishart, informatics major and third-year Serve IT intern. "You can take it into a company or organization, do a lot with it, and you can really move things along."

Serve IT was founded in the spring semester of 2010 by McRobbie, whose career background is in technology, and Maureen Biggers, assistant dean for diversity and education for the IU School of Informatics and Computing and director of the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology. They identified this model as a way to create a more inclusive IT culture through service learning, providing a critical point in student development.

"Serve IT works well for many reasons," McRobbie said. "The teams work across semesters, and the entire focus is on what the nonprofit needs, not the requirements of a course. The interns are also required to provide 10 hours of direct service, so they have a stake in the organization they’re serving. They're investing in the agency as they invest in their own education and career."

"We encourage students across disciplines -- not just informatics or computer science majors -- to serve as interns at the clinic," Biggers said. “The service-learning aspect attracts more women and minorities, and the projects often spark a deep interest in tech and a realization of opportunities within this sector. Often times these ‘non-techie’ interns stay with us in some capacity, pursuing a concentration or minor.

"For many of these students, Serve IT has been a gateway to the School of Informatics and Computing, and a huge step toward inclusion for the school."

In five years, Serve IT has served more than 45 clients and helped prepare more than 330 interns for their careers. The clinic has provided an estimated $282,000 in technology services to its clients.

Matt Hottell, director of Serve IT, oversees the application process for both interns and clients. He celebrates the journey of Serve IT -- past, present and future.

"The agencies come in with expectations, and it's great when I see the interns exceed them with their professionalism and dedication while working on projects," Hottell said. "It's been an incredible experience to be able to lead this clinic, and as technology advances, I can’t wait to see what our interns can do for our clients."

About Serve IT

Serve IT is a community information technology clinic housed in the IU School of Informatics and Computing and is a collaborative effort involving many different partners within IU and the greater Monroe County area. Serve IT exists to serve local nonprofit organizations with a wide range of technological services provided by a staff of students, faculty and employees dedicated to furthering the mission of those organizations.

Serve IT logo

Serve IT logo | Photo by Indiana University

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Laurie Burns McRobbie

Laurie Burns McRobbie | Photo by Indiana University

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Media Contacts

Jamie  Witt

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