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Students learn to give used computers new lease of life in programme offered at ITE

SINGAPORE – Used computers will get a new lease of life after being refurbished by students at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who would be equipped with the skills for this purpose in a training partnership with industry collaborators.

The 40-hour certificate programme, which will be conducted in a new lab at ITE College East in collaboration with electronics manufacturer Lenovo and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), was announced on Tuesday at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (Switch) tech conference at Marina Bay Sands.

Staff and students from the Higher Nitec in electronics engineering course across all three ITE colleges will be trained to repair and refurbish old devices at the lab as part of the course.

So far, 60 ITE staff members and students in total have been trained under the refurbishment programme, said an ITE spokesman. The course will be extended to all students as a separate elective by April 2024.

The course also aims to train 720 ITE students and more than 1,000 members of the public under a separate SkillsFuture programme over three years, to help them find jobs in the sustainability field. It will also bolster the electronics manufacturer’s refurbishment capabilities.

Students will be trained to assess the condition of used gadgets, erase data, and decide which devices are fit for refurbishment and which should be scrapped for parts for use elsewhere, Lenovo country general manager Nigel Lee told The Straits Times.


With the help of digital simulators, students will learn how to judge which parts should be removed and what components can be added to a used device to help it run smoothly, he added.


The programme with ITE aims to train a workforce that is adept at refurbishing, which Mr Lee believes will be crucial to sustainability efforts in the manufacturing sector.

Refurbishment helps to extend the lifespan of devices, resulting in less electronic waste.

ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said: “This partnership between ITE, Lenovo and AMD is forward-thinking, with clarity of purpose on sustainability, decarbonisation and technological innovation.”


Students in the programme will also be trained to maintain devices and troubleshoot common issues and will be recognised as Lenovo-certified technicians.

Devices for refurbishment typically come from customer trade-ins or corporate clients who use Lenovo devices on a subscription basis, said Mr Lee. “These customers normally use the laptops for up to five years,” he added, “but if you refurbish it, the devices can last three more years or longer, depending on the software.”

Lenovo did not state how many devices it planned to refurbish under the partnership, but said the effort will contribute to its goal to increase the adoption of used devices and to refurbish a third of all its devices collected by the end of 2024.

More than 50 businesses here have signed up for the brand’s Asset Recovery Services, which include refurbishment and disposal.

The refurbished devices can in turn be used to support charities and events, or sold at a lower price to customers who do not necessarily need the latest top-end devices, said Mr Lee. Lenovo will work with upcycling service providers Rentalworks and TES to lease refurbished devices to customers at lower rates.

Lenovo is one of many tech manufacturers, including Apple and HP, that offer refurbishment programmes to extend the lifespan of their devices and reduce their carbon footprint.

Beyond sustainability efforts, there has also been a push here to supply low-income families with refurbished devices.

Non-profit groups such as Engineering Good have handed out more than 3,800 refurbished computers to needy students for home-based learning since 2020.

More than 350 exhibitors from around the world have set up booths at the Switch trade show, which is taking place from Tuesday to Thursday and is expected to draw at least 15,000 industry players and other visitors.

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