DSC01153b-180x By Iris Raeshaun February 22, 2010

Students enrolled in web and computer design courses in rural Mississippi are learning the elements of the trades and how to start their own design firms from a founding father of the world’s first microprocessor.

Forty-five junior and high school students and adults from Mount Olive and Mendenhall are taking advantage of the free non-credit college level courses being taught by Ray M. Holt, of Cornerstone Business Services, Santa Clara, California.

Holt is also conducting guest lectures at The University of Mississippi (Engineering and Computer Science Departments), and Jackson State University.  Holt was recently the first guest speaker at Jackson State University’s First Annual Engineering Week.

Tony Leggett, of Collins, is enrolled in both courses.  Leggett, 32, works as a Nuclear Pharmacy Technician at Cardinal Health in Hattiesburg.  Leggett is enthusiastic about the courses, which he says will “increase my net worth on the job.”  Leggett is pursuing his associate’s degree in Computer Services from Jones County Junior College.

DSC01145b-200x“This is a great opportunity for me and for others,” says Leggett. “Some topics are refreshers for me but most of what we are studying is contemporary and centered on what is happening in technology today as opposed to what was happening just two years ago or so.”

Mount Olive High School junior, Lakeeasha Williams, 17, is enrolled in the Web Design course with Leggett being taught at Mount Olive Ministries’ Computer Lab in Mount Olive.

“Classes on this level are not offered in this area especially by an instructor who has helped advance the field of technology to where it is today,” says Williams.

Holt claims from 1968-1970 that he and a team of 25 engineers working for Garrett AiResearch Corp., a division of AlliedSignal Corp. invented the microprocessor, which places the basic elements of a computer onto a few silicon chips.  The invention launched the digital revolution. Today, the microprocessor chip sells billions of units a year.

An article in The Wall Street Journal written September 22, 1998, credits the sixty-five year old for his pioneering work of a parallel multi-microprocessor chip set for the U.S. Navy’s F-14A “Tomcat” fighter jet which simultaneously calculated air speed, wing position and altitude as well as many other functions.

In September 2009 the Smithsonian Museum Air & Space magazine included the F-14 microprocessor in an article highlighting unique and innovative designs from the 20th century.

Holt’s recent lectures at state colleges include the details of his developing the microprocessor.

In the meantime, 17-year-old Williams is taking advantage of the opportunity believing that it will benefit her personally and professionally.  Williams plans to attend college and study medicine.

“No one can get around working with computers or being affected by them in some way so I want to learn what I can in order to be competitive,” says Williams.

Holt has been a computer designer and programmer since 1968. Over his career he started two computer companies, owned a retail store and launched a computer and technology trade magazine, as well as founding two non-profits; one being the Christian Athletic Association, Inc in San Jose, CA which currently serves over 1,000 kids annually.

Holt says it is important that students keep pace with the ever-changing trends in technology, especially those in rural areas.

“These classes give students additional skills and in my opinion skills they can start using to earn money for themselves. If the students are not interested in going into business for themselves, the classes still provide them skills to enter into other disciplines,” says Holt.

During the classes, each student will build three web pages, one of which must be a web page for a community service organization.  Because students are taking the classes free of charge, they are being encouraged to provide free web page services to a community organization of their choice.  At the end of the courses, students will formally present class projects to the public.

DSC00546a-200xMount Olive Ministries and Mendenhall Ministries of Mendenhall are host sites.  Both organizations work to promote rural education.

“I am happy that Mount Olive Ministries can help provide such a viable course to interested members of the community,” says Tony C. Duckworth, president of Mount Olive Ministries.  “We exist to make a difference in the lives of people and hopefully to enhance their employability.”

Established in 1996, Mount Olive Ministries also provides after-school care and tutoring to students and annual leadership development camps.  Holt first learned about Mount Olive Ministries during his visits to Mississippi in the early ’90’s when he first met the Duckworth’s.  Upon his recent arrival in Mississippi Holt offered his services to Mount Olive Ministries.

“These classes give individuals the ability to publish their work on the Internet themselves without having to hire anyone,” says Holt. “This is an advantage to them, especially to the younger students. I’m just glad that I can help.”

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Category: Ministry , Technology Training

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