IT finalist at hand when chips down

By Laurel Stowell


Ed Minnell is used to being the guy who hides in the backroom - but a competition for New Zealand's IT superhero has pushed him out front.

He's one of 10 finalists in the competition run by telecommunication company Kordia. The prize is a trip for two to the United States, with a one-day tour of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

The winner will be chosen today.

Mr Minnell is a fan of all things techy and has never travelled overseas. He said the trip would be great but winning it would pose some problems for him.

"I've got no idea where I'm going to find the time. My annual holidays are two weeks a year. I even work on public holidays because that's when I can get most done when no one is around. And due to not being well paid, I am broke."

The Wanganui man's wife nominated him for the competition, because he worked mainly for low decile schools, was always willing to help and was not well paid. Voters praised his patience, his low or non-existent charges, his clear explanations and the fact that he was unflappable.

Much of his work, as sole trader in his own Evertec Solutions business, is with Keith St, Tawhero, Mosston and Te Wainui a Rua schools. He's been doing it for 12 years.

Next year he's looking forward to working for a trust being set up by 15 Wanganui primary schools that aim to share ICT (information and communication technology) equipment and people.

He said it was true he could earn more if he took his skills elsewhere.

"I could walk out of here today and double my income. There have been times when I have been almost tempted."

But he likes knowing he's making a difference, and being remembered and greeted by teenagers he helped while they were back at primary school.

Some of the educational software around was very engaging for children, and a great help in their education.

"You know you've got it right when they've spent 30 minutes working on a maths system and it's time to pack up and they say (a disappointed) 'aw'."

Children from low decile schools often didn't have access to a computer at home. They tended to be more visually orientated and many "start to really fly" with technology in their hands.

Mr Minnell can understand the children's fascination. He's been a computer geek since owning his first Atari 800 XL machine as an 8-year-old Waverley boy. It had 32KB of RAM and took 15 minutes to load a game, "which these days is pathetic".

After working on other people's all day he goes home and sits in front of his own.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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