Hilltop kids build their own touch screen kiosk at computer center


Nic Jaramillo, director of the Hilltop Computer Center, explains a little about the center’s background before talking about the touch screen kiosk built by 15 Hilltop kids.

For Hilltop kids who once had no idea how to turn on a computer, building a touch-screen computer kiosk from scratch seemed like an impossible dream.

But 15 kids from Pittsburgh’s Hilltop Computer Center have made that dream into a reality, and unveiled their finished touch screen kiosk at Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center at 500 Brownsville Road.

“These kids are amazing,” said Rig Riggins, president and CEO, YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. “They put in a great deal of time and effort for an outstanding accomplishment. The Y is honored to be a part of this project designed to give students a technological advantage and made possible by our partners at the Neighborhood Learning Alliance, Google and our community neighbors.”

Funded by Google Pittsburgh and supported by the Neighborhood Learning Alliance and the Thelma Lovette YMCA, the project included 15 students from ages 8-14. Working side-by-side with staff advisors, the students assembled a multi-touch display for all visitors to the computer center to use. Students built the multi-touch screen from a camera, a projector and raw physical materials.

The interactive table top allows users to run both Microsoft Windows 8 and Google’s Android operating system applications. Eventually, the team will develop custom applications and games designed for use in the center and at neighborhood locations, such as the CLP - Knoxville Library.

“Google is thrilled to support this initiative to enrich the Pittsburgh community with a fun project that allows young people to have hands-on engineering experience,” said Todd Templeton, community affairs lead for Google Pittsburgh.

The Hilltop Computer Center opened in 2011 as part of a federally funded Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant awarded to the Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA) to open four public computer centers in targeted low-income neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Other funding was provided by the Pittsburgh Foundation and partners including the Homewood and Thelma Lovette YMCAs, Hill House Association, and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.

A recent grant to the NLA from the Birmingham Foundation supports the Hilltop Pittsburgh CONNECTS center.

“Helping families connect to technology is a critical need in low-income neighborhoods,” said Jim Lenkner, project coordinator of Pittsburgh CONNECTS. “Neighborhood computer centers give children and adults the resources they need to build skills in areas of employment, education and health and wellness.”

The Hilltop Computer Center serves ten South Pittsburgh neighborhoods, including Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Bon Air, Carrick, Knoxville, Mount Oliver and Saint Clair.


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