Never Too Old to Learn

88-year-old back in school after 69 years

HAMMOND, Ind. -- When Edgar Spikes enrolled at Purdue University Calumet, the 88-year-old retiree had been out of school for 69 years.

Spikes, who retired from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in 1983, does not recall ever using a computer during his career.

"I had a PC at home, but didn’t really know how to operate it," he said. "Then last year, I attended a free computer course. The instructor told me about the IT Essentials class at Purdue. I told him I couldn’t get anybody to repair my computer, so I though I’d take the class and learn how to do it myself."

The course is offered by the Department of Engineering Technology at the Purdue University Calumet campus.

A highlight for Spikes was using Packet Tracer, a simulation tool that enables Networking Academy students to perform a variety of tasks as if they were working with a real network.

"I really like it," he said. "I’ve got it on my home computer and when I have some time I play around with it and have a good time figuring things out." 

Robinson, an instructor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology program at Purdue Calumet and a nine-year Networking Academy veteran, is impressed with Spikes’ dedication.

"He comes in and repeats an exercise until he gets it," Robinson said. "I think he’s an inspiration to the other students and everyone here."

Spikes has no immediate plans for a new career. He simply wants to learn more about digital technology.

"I intend to go to school as long as I’m able," he said. "While you’re alive you should always be doing something, shouldn’t you?"

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