Community News Magazine

Impact of Computer Aid’s humanitarian equipment on Ukrainian researchers and educators

Nadiia Savenko from O. Ya. Usikov Institute homeworking using a humanitarian laptop

In December 2023, the URAN Foundation (a charitable organisation of the URAN Association, the Ukrainian NREN) received 65 laptops from the UK for distribution to researchers and educators in the war-torn country. This humanitarian aid was organised by the GÉANT community through the Computer Aid charity. Computer Aid prepared and delivered the laptops, GÉANT paid for them with funds donated to the Vietsch Foundation by European NRENs, and URAN distributed them to selected universities and research institutions in Ukraine.

Preparation and Delivery

Larysa Shevchenko, Director, URAN Foundation

“First thing, the URAN Association’s engineers checked each laptop and replaced all the power cords and UK plugs.” Larysa Shevchenko, director of the URAN Foundation, says.

In order to enable the activation of the pre-installed Windows licence on all laptops, the specialists prepared and posted relevant instructions on the NREN’s website. The next step was the distribution of the equipment among selected R&E institutions.

“We based our distribution on a user survey carried out in the summer of 2023” Larysa Shevchenko explains. “Our main selection criterion was to look at institutions in cities that had been intensely shelled. We also gave priority to universities evacuated from the occupied territories. In total, we chose 16 organisations.”

The entire URAN team was involved in the equipment preparation:

  • the finance team advised the beneficiary institutions on the correct document preparation for humanitarian aid;
  • the technical specialists checked the laptops and equipped them with new power cords;
  • the rest of the team added the necessary supporting documents to the kit and packed them.

“Each team member, whenever available, arranged the shipments in between shelling or air raids. In February 2024 we shipped the last batch of laptops. Due to our lack of experience with charity donations, the whole process took almost two months, longer than we had hoped, now that we know what to do, future batches will reach our users more rapidly” Larysa Shevchenko adds.

How scientists are using the humanitarian IT equipment

One of the first institutions to receive the laptops was the O. Ya. Usikov Institute for Radio Physics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. This scientific centre conducts radio physical research on solids and biological objects, studies radio wave propagation, and is engaged in remote sensing of the Earth’s environment from aerospace carriers.

The Institute is located in Kharkiv, which suffers from daily shelling and power cuts. “To organise work in such conditions, reliable IT equipment is paramount,” says Nadiia Savenko, deputy head of the telecommunications and grid technologies department. “People can only work remotely, and the equipment must be able to withstand power surges and hold battery power for a long time. The five laptops we received from the URAN Foundation are so valuable to us, they even have a Windows licence”.

The equipment allocation was based on the organisation’s immediate needs. One laptop displays information on a large screen in the institute’s conference hall, which is used for internal scientific seminars (the institute teaches postgraduate and doctoral students), for meetings of the Academic Council, and by staff members (who happens to be also researchers) to defend their dissertations. The second laptop was assigned to the finance department, where a computer had broken down due to a power outage.

Two more laptops were provided to employees for remote teaching: for decades, the institute has been cooperating with Kharkiv universities, in fact its employees have been giving lectures and seminars to students.

“I use the fifth laptop to work remotely,” Nadiia Savenko explains. “My main task is to enable the uninterrupted operation of the institute’s local network, without which it is impossible to carry out any scientific work.  Thanks to its reliable and powerful power supply unit, the laptop allows me to work even during many hours of power outages.”

How educators are using the laptops

The ZSMFU network administrator in the server room configures the university’s equipment using a humanitarian laptop

Zaporizhzhia State Medical and Pharmaceutical University (ZSMFU) is also one of the recipients of some of the humanitarian equipment. ZSMFU has its own clinic and medical college and  trains future doctors and pharmacists, with more than 9,000 students – over 2,500 from abroad – from 42 countries. The university needs IT equipment to support distance learning as the city of Zaporizhzhia, like Kharkiv, is targeted daily by ground and air shelling.

“The laptops’ technical features are superior to those of our previous equipment” says Viktor Prytula, head of the university’s computer technology centre. “Exactly what we needed to ensure a more reliable performance of our IT infrastructure.”

The new, more powerful laptops have been assigned to technical specialists, as the work of the distance learning platform depends on them. Viktor and his team gave the older computers to teachers due to the less power-consuming nature of remote teaching and distance learning.

“Our technical specialists are the main beneficiaries of the equipment we received from URAN” Viktor Prytula explains. “The laptops facilitate online learning in classrooms and shelters while also performing critical maintenance and testing on the university’s network. This task is especially vital for institutions operating in frontline zones, as the entire educational process relies on the flawless operation of the IT equipment.”

Further information

In April 2024, the URAN Foundation received a second batch of 105 laptops from Computer Aid; the URAN team is already at work preparing their delivery to scientists and educators in the cities more directly affected by the ongoing Russian invasion. Read the GÉANT CONNECT45 magazine interview with Ludovic Gautier to find out how Computer Aid organised the first delivery of laptops to Ukraine.

URAN is one of the five beneficiary NREN partners of the EU-funded EaPConnect Project coordinated by GÉANT. For more information about EaPConnect visit:

GÉANT CONNECT Magazine - CONNECT 46 -TNC24This article is featured on CONNECT 46, the latest issue of the GÉANT CONNECT Magazine!

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