Elkhart, Ind.-based MITO Corp., a supplier of mobile technology for the RV, marine, automotive and bus markets, has announced a collaboration with Elkhart Community Schools and the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) Summer Internship Program at the University of Notre Dame. The group will be outfitting at least 25 buses with WiFiRanger Teton C-19 broadcast units and Core interior routers to provide internet access for several hundred students in the Elkhart area.
Jason Inman, director of technology services for Elkhart Community Schools, who oversees the deployment of technology used within the school district, began working with the CCI interns to identify a solution for distance e-learning challenges Elkhart faced in the last few months of the previous school year due to COVID-19.
Four interns, representing Elkhart High School and Goshen College, worked on the project through CCI, including Irving Suarez, a senior psychology and biology double major at Goshen College. Jose Chiquito Galvan, CCI internship program manager for Elkhart, managed the team.
“Anecdotally, we knew there was a need (for affordable Wi-Fi), and even more so now with the pandemic. But we didn’t know exactly where it was concentrated.” Galvan said. “The goal of the surveys was to get an understanding of the overall need for Wi-Fi access.”
“Once we saw the results of the surveys, the primary goal was to provide reliable internet to students in South Central Elkhart,” added Suarez, who was born in Elkhart and grew up in Goshen.
Coincidentally it was their survey that ultimately led MITO Corp. to reach out with a solution that fit their mission.
“While we had been marketing our WiFiRanger C-19 bus product line since the start of the pandemic, it wasn’t until we received the intern’s demographic survey of Elkhart County that MITO learned of this initiative,” said Dan Maloney, president of MITO Corp. “I approached MITO Owner Mike Stock, who is an Elkhart School graduate, and he was 100 percent on board for doing whatever we could as a company to help our local community and his alma mater.”
The outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots Elkhart Community Schools will be deployed through the CARES Act and will have an omnidirectional range of about 2,000 feet. Verizon will provide the internet service for the hotspots under a program that offers discounts to school corporations. MITO is offering its own discount on the broadcast hardware, which, according to Inman, is already more affordable and reliable than competing products that are being used elsewhere in the area.
The outreach by MITO was facilitated by Andrew Tate, owner of Three Fires Creative and the marketing representative for MITO Corporation.
“We immediately knew this would be a golden opportunity for MITO to do some goodwill in our own backyard in these uncertain times. We knew we had a hyper-competitive product that could translate the Notre Dame CCI interns’ hard work and study into a real-world solution,” said Tate, “It gives myself, and I’m sure all other parties that came together, great satisfaction to help our community, but also by showing north-central Indiana entities can come together to solve major problems will reinforce the innovative strength and economic development of the Norther Indiana area as a whole.”