There is nothing more ambiguous than the term, Computer Lab.
Normally, the term implies a room full of personal computers. Generally, they all have internet access, a popular bundle of programs for word processing, spread sheets, and presentations. There’s usually a shared printer.
Often, you see sessions conducted that teach people computers. What exactly does that mean?
Usually, people come to the computer lab, sit in front of a PC, and there is someone in front of the room teaching them how to operate the computer, do internet searches, and basic use of the standard software.
When the sessions are complete, the students are on their way to using the PC as a tool for entertainment, education, productivity, research, outreach, or career building.
When the computers are not used for classes, they should become available for public use, but that’s usually not the case.
Chester City Hall has had a computer lab for years. Community Hospital has a computer lab. The YWCA has a computer lab.
But, the only place you’ll find the public using computers on a regular basis is Crozer Library. And that's not called a Computer Lab. Go figure!
As an engineer, when I hear the term computer lab, I’m reminded of those real labs with oscilloscopes, protoboards, voltage detectors, solder guns, and bins of multi colored resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors, ribbon cable, CPUs, LCDs, motherboards, power supplies, and heat sinks. Computer Labs for me have been the place we wear white jackets, stand on static proof mats and build, test, and repair computers.
But that’s just me.
I don’t believe computer labs are the answer to creating an entrepreneur community. Sure, most business owners may use a computer but unless they are in the computer business, the PC is nothing more than an office tool. It doesn’t generate revenue, it’s a business expense.
If there is someone reading this post who has started a company as a result of learning to use a PC, please share your experiences here.