Can a Cow Stand on Your Chromebook?

Sure our marketing for the Dell 5190 Chromebook says it “survives school days and school kids,” but that’s just marketing, right? What if your students are just as likely to be in a metal shop or barn as they are a classroom?

a girl leads a cow toward a Dell Chromebook lying on the ground

“I have tested the durability on some other Chromebooks and laptops but typically they don’t last past the first few drops,” said Joshua Shearer, director of technology at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High Schools. “This was the first time I was able to let my creativity and ideas of how they are actually used in the classroom grow.”

What he’s referring to is the video below where he took on our Account Manager Tim Baker’s challenge to try a Dell Chromebook 5190 2-in-1 and “run it through its paces.”

“I was more than excited to test out the new Education Dell 5190’s, in fact, I think I told him we weren’t considering the 2-in-1 tablet models because it’s just one more thing that breaks,” said Shearer. “After my testing, it was hard not to revisit the idea.”

Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School is the oldest agricultural school in the country and the first vocational school in Massachusetts, opening for students in 1908. Students spend alternating weeks in shop and academic programs as they prepare for both a high school diploma and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency.

So those paces might be a bit different from your average high school.

“With durability being one of the biggest differentiators between our Chromebook and every competitor, it is not unusual for us to encourage potential customers to put it to the test of their everyday life,” Baker said. But he added, “in my three years in this role I have never seen anyone put one through this rigorous of a test.”

From dropping it off a ladder to putting it in a freezer, Shearer progressed to more unique challenges involving tractors, sawdust, metal shavings and cows.

A Dell Chromebook sits in the metal shop of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School

“Our students work in the thick of it and carry their devices throughout the school so to have a device with them in the field or in this case, the barn, is not unheard of,” Shearer said. “It was quite surprising once the 1,500-pound cow stepped on it that it didn’t cause more damage. The only damage it took while lying on the barn floor was adding a unique smell.”

Animal science is just one of the many careers for which Smith students might be preparing. And whether they’re studying carpentry, collision repair, culinary arts, horticulture/forestry, plumbing or other vocations, technology plays a role.

“We are constantly expanding the scope that technology holds in our school to better help our students learn and prepare for their future,” said Shearer. “Their path might end up taking them directly to a full-time job or bring them into college.”

Like most other high schools, Smith does have athletic programs, too, and when Shearer explained to their Athletic Director Jeff Lareau what he was doing, Lareau got excited.

“In fact, I think his exact words were ‘Let me see that thing, I bet I can break it!’ After two throws … he couldn’t,” said Shearer. “He’s still shocked he didn’t do any damage (I am as well).”

About the Author: Laura Pevehouse

Laura Pevehouse was profiled as one of five “social media mavens” in the March 2009 issue of Austin Woman Magazine and named an AdWeek’s TweetFreak Five to Follow. She has been part of the Dell organization for more than 15 years in various corporate communications, employee communications, public relations, community affairs, marketing, branding, social media and online communication roles. From 2014-2018, Laura was Chief Blogger/Editor-in-Chief for Direct2DellEMC and Direct2Dell, Dell’s official corporate blog that she help launch in 2007. She is now a member of the Dell Technologies Chairman Communications team. Earlier in her Dell career she focused on Global Commercial Channels and US Small and Medium Business public relations as part of the Global Communications team. Prior to that, she was responsible for global strategy in social media and community management, as well as marcom landing pages, as a member of Dell’s Global SMB Marketing, Brand and Creative team. When she was part of Dell’s Global Online group, Laura provided internal consulting that integrated online and social media opportunities with a focus on Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. She managed the home page of, one of the top 500 global web sites in Alexa traffic rank, and first brought web feeds and podcasts to the ecommerce site. In her spare time she led Dell into the metaverse with the creation of Dell Island in the virtual world Second Life. Laura has earned the designation of Accredited Business Communicator from the International Association of Business Communicators, and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Louisiana State University. Before joining Dell Financial Services in 2000, she worked at the Texas Workforce Commission and PepsiCo Food Systems Worldwide.