Connecticut's Fairfield University has found a way to give computer students practical programming experience while they help nonprofit groups. Adolph Katz, a business professor, first learned that the Food Bank of Fairfield County was having trouble tracking food arriving from federal, state, and private sources that was destined for soup kitchens and other outlets. Katz enlisted students from his advanced computer class to customize DataEase International Inc.'s data-base program to help solve the problem.
It worked so well that the students have moved on to tackle similar projects for other organizations. Another project created a data base for students who help out at shelters for the homeless and other community-service programs. Based on Ashton-Tate's dBase III, the program keeps track of students and their skills, interests, and class schedules and matches them to the appropriate agencies.