How Students and Educators Helped Us Reach 50,000 Repair Guides

We put a lot of stock in the old adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”—but we like to substitute “repair” in for “fish.” Repair has almost become a lost art—and it’s becoming increasingly extinct in a disposable society that’s partial to mainlining cheap, single-use goods.

We’re on a mission to change that. Sixteen years ago, we set out to teach everyone to fix every thing—and what better place to teach than in the classroom? That’s why we’ve partnered with 80 universities across the world to teach them technical writing and the importance of repair. We launched our education program back in 2009, and it’s set up like a partnership: We provide students with a device, tools, and a dedicated staff member to support them while they go through the process of learning how to take apart, repair, and then write a repair guide for their device. They get credit for a technical writing course, and the world benefits from the repair guides they create. Once a year, we host all of the instructors in the program at our headquarters and put them through a condensed crash-course of the curriculum.

iFixit Technical Writing Project

The program has been a huge success, and it continues to grow every year. More than 19,000 students have completed the program—and together, they’ve created about 60% of the guides on iFixit. Today, we crossed our 50,000 guide threshold, and we absolutely could not have done that without the help of our students. In fact, if we relied solely on iFixit staff to create guides, and our staff produced one guide per day, it would have taken us 137 years to reach this point.

Our student guides cover everything from snowboards to hoverboards, (robot) kitties to (robot) vacuums, and Instax cameras to Instant Pots. Thanks to our university program, we are now the most comprehensive resource online for vacuum repair guides, too. Our students have worked directly with NGOs to provide guides that help sustainable organizations, such as OLPC, Free Wheelchair Mission, Lifewater, and Gravity Light. And we regularly have top tech companies inquire about students who have excelled in the program to recruit for their own companies.

We hear a lot of wonderful feedback from students in the program, too:

“I’ll admit that when I took your communication for engineers class that I didn’t take it all that seriously. When you said “you’re going to feel awesome when you see your project published!” I thought you were full of it. I just got this email from iFixit and you know what? This does feel pretty sweet.”

We think it’s pretty sweet, too,

For more information about our Education Program, feel free to contact our Director of Education Services, Brittany McCrigler, @ brittany@ifixit.com