Engineering Students Work in Liberia

by Public Relations

This May, Tom Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, along with Paul Mitchell, supervisor of water systems, at Cedarville University will lead a team of engineering students on a missions trip to Liberia, Africa. Teams have gone in previous years to survey and complete projects on the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) campus ELWA Ministries, a ministry association led by Liberian nationals with partnership support of Serving in Missions, an international missions organization.

While on the trip, engineering students will minister to the people and missionaries of Liberia, but they will also take part in an academic experience. For some, the experience will include students’ senior design requirements. This year, the students will be involved in three main projects, the most notable being to install a solar heating system for hot water for the ELWA hospital. The team will also provide better water filters for the compound, replacing the inadequate pool filters with industrial filters. These filters have already been shipped and are making their way to Monrovia, the capitol city of Liberia.

This year’s team will also continue a tradition started by previous Liberia missions teams; the students will bring solar-powered reading lights to Liberian pastors. Because Liberian pastors are generally self-sustaining and work on their farms from sun-up to sun-down; they require light to study Scripture for their sermons after dark but electricity is virtually nonexistent in the bush and candlelight can be dangerous. This year, Cedarville’s Society of Engineers Aiding Missions, a student organization, is sending the largest shipment of lights to date, which the engineering students will assemble for the pastors.

The missions team will also evaluate and update previous projects, including a medical waste incinerator and a cooling system for the generators which was designed and installed by a Cedarville team in 2007. The group has also conducted a “What is Engineering” seminar for young Liberian students and provided Computer Aided Design seminars for technicians. This year, the team will prepare additional training seminars on plumbing and on computing with spreadsheets.

By spending time with people in some of Liberia’s more primitive villages, students will be able to gain a better understanding of the lives of their Liberian brothers and sisters in Christ. The group will have the opportunity to worship with other Liberian Christians, experiencing the authentic worship of those who are praising the same God in a very different mode.

“I have never seen people so poor materially be so rich spiritually,” said Patrick Brady, a senior electrical engineering major who went on the trip last year. “We may have influenced their lives with our improvements to their computer lab and water system, but they had a greater impact on our lives by allowing us to see what it truly means to live out your faith under hard circumstances.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,200 undergraduate, graduate, and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at