Six Seniors Transform Classroom into Computer Business

For six William Woods University seniors, all it takes is a little initiative and some elbow grease to jumpstart a computer business.

Nocturnal Exodus, the vision of the Computer Information Science (CIS) senior seminar class, is a student-managed business located on the WWU campus that troubleshoots and repairs problems with clients’ computer hardware and software.

The students responsible for the opening of Nocturnal Exodus are: Murry Deleeuw of Brookfield, Conn.; Cale Fessler of Fulton, Mo.; Jake Itegjboje of Lagos, Nigeria; Lynn Otto of St. Elizabeth, Mo.; Gina Reigelsberger of Brunswick, Mo., and Josh Welschmeyer of Eldon, Mo.

“The main part of this whole thing is that students feel that they are a real part of the decision making—that this is their business,” said Linda Davis, assistant professor of Computer Information Science and facilitator of Nocturnal Exodus.

Nocturnal Exodus will hold an open house from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Monday, April 28, in room 101 of the university’s John Burton Economics and Business Building.

The business began accepting students’ computers for hardware and software repairs in early April.

“It’s a win-win situation,” explained Davis. “CIS students get great experience and other WWU students get free computer help.”

This spring, the non-profit business is only accepting student clients. However, Nocturnal Exodus will expand its client base to include outside businesses, as well, in upcoming semesters. When that happens, a fee of $5 to $10 per service may be added.

“It’s a great idea because we get to practice the stuff that we’ve been learning since we came in,” remarked Itegjboje. “Before this class, we got a lot of theory, but not so much application.”

Deleeuw agreed. “We actually get to apply the knowledge we have.”

The students decided upon “Nocturnal Exodus” as the official name due to their mission and high expectations. “Nocturnal” was chosen because the workers are willing to labor throughout the night to repair any problems and meet their 24-hour turnaround goal. “Exodus” describes the journey they took to establish their business.

Since fall 2002, these seniors have put in their fair share of long hours and hard work.

To get the business up and running, the students, starting with only a dream, had to find a room, furniture and equipment.

Their searches took them to the university’s old bookstore to search for furniture, then to a visit with the university’s chief financial officer to obtain a location and finally through the “computer junkyard” in the university computer annex for broken equipment and spare parts.

In all, the students came away with a room, a variety of furniture and more than 20 broken computers, printers, typewriters and fax machines.

From all their accumulations, the students were able to troubleshoot all equipment and completely restore three computers, three printers, multiple typewriters, one fax machine and one network hub. They also salvaged parts to use in the troubleshooting portion of the business.

“There were lots of responsibilities. We had to get together everything we needed,” explained Otto. “Every student had an assigned task each week and each week we did evaluations on each other. We spent several class periods just organizing the room.”

Currently, Nocturnal Exodus has only the six seniors as employees, working on
an on-call basis. However, the plan for upcoming years is to integrate as many computer students as possible. In addition to the yearly CIS senior seminar students, interns or work-study students could work in the business.

“The goal is to have 20 CIS students coordinated to work here with one student in charge of coordinating the schedule,” said Davis. “The big concern is that when we say we’re open, we are.”

Overall, opening Nocturnal Exodus proved to be a worthwhile experience for the six WWU seniors involved.

“We got an overview of what its like to have to do something completely on your own,” Otto said. “I felt more like someone in the real world, unlike a student where everything is outlined and planned for you. We had to make all the decisions. It made it a lot tougher.”