January 9, 2014

Andrews Engineering Students Use Skills to Serve Others

Enrollment Coordinator, Andrews University, reporting from Berrien Springs, Michigan

“Christ’s ministry had a lot to do with the work of His hands; at first in the carpenter’s shop, then through His healing ministry,” says Wagner Kuhn, professor of world mission and intercultural studies at Andrews University. “We train in a profession to not only make a living, but also to work with a Christ-centered perspective.”

Last summer Boon-Chai Ng, professor of engineering, took students to Singapore for a study tour, where they volunteered their time and abilities to refurbish a walkway for a local church.

This is not the first such project on which professors and students have collaborated. For their senior project in 2012, engineering students Adam Shull and Spencer Groff worked with Hyun Kwon, assistant professor of engineering, on a portable water treatment system for missionaries. They chose this project because many service-oriented organizations, such as Maranatha, ADRA, the American Red Cross, and the World Health Organization, send employees and volunteers into countries that do not have adequate water supplies. Their water purifier system would provide enough clean water for 30 people for 30 days.

“Both we and our students are passionate about choosing projects and conducting research that make an impact on society,” says Kwon. “Engineering is about how to make life better for others. That is what I do, and that is what I teach.”

In Kwon’s lab the research team is working on biosensor development. This type of technology is helpful in diagnosing diseases on the spot, which could improve the speed of treatment. Team members are working on developing a system that is inexpensive and portable, so it can be made available for underdeveloped countries.

Because of its interest and involvement in service to underprivileged
communities, the Department of Engineering and Computer Science has begun implementing a chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB is a nonprofit organization that works with community-driven development programs worldwide to create and complete sustainable engineering projects.

“Joining Engineers Without Borders will help us to continue fulfilling our mission of service and meeting people’s needs,” says Ng. “It will give us the framework to use our engineering skills in design, collaboration, and service to further Christ’s mission.”

Andrews University’s EWB project will bring basic resources such as water or electricity to an underdeveloped country.

“We have the example of the apostles emulating Christ, such as Paul with his tent-making profession,” points out George Agoki, chair of the Department of Engineering and Computer Science. “Tentmaking was an economic support, but the mission was not separate from the profession.”

Through student projects, research, and programs such as EWB, there are ways to make this tangible by meeting people’s needs for water, sanitation, electricity/energy, and technology.

“When the apostle Peter talks about the chosen people, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the people who belong to God, he is referring to all members of the body of Christ; those who have joined God’s church and follow Him as His disciples,” says Kuhn. “Interestingly, the body is made up of different members, each one with skills and abilities that add to the proper functioning and life of the whole.”

The Department of Engineering and Computer Science at Andrews University will host an open house that will include presentations and activities during its Engineering Week, February 17–21, 2014. For information contact Joleen Yasa at [email protected].