Engineers Discover the Call to Serve

by Public Relations

For eight Cedarville engineering students, spring break was about more than sitting on the beach relaxing or road tripping to some distant destination. It was about serving and using their talents to benefit others while gaining valuable career experience.

The team, led by Jeffrey Shortt, Ph.D., consisted of seniors Shawn Rifner and Kyle Fox; juniors Erkai Watson and Jimmy Smyly; and sophomores David Ross, Sam Riggleman, Josh Fleming and Daniel Ryker. The team traveled to Elkhart, Indiana, to do volunteer work at the HCJB Global Technology Resource Center.

The resource center serves as a support base for missionary radio stations around the world. The center provides quality equipment for Christian media ministries as well as ongoing repair and training services for that equipment.

One of the main services the center provides is assembling radio transmitters to send to communities that do not have them. The center sends the completed transmitters with an engineer who also serves as a missionary. Not only will the community receive a radio transmitter, they will also receive an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

According to Shortt, the center gets many requests for equipment and service each year but can’t fulfill all of them. When the center put out the call for spring break teams from colleges and universities around the country, Shortt put together a volunteer team to answer that call.

The students worked on various projects ranging from refurbishing a high power shortwave transmitter, working in a machine shop and designing a power protection test fixture. Because much of the equipment faces difficult power conditions in the countries it is being sent to, the equipment must be designed to withstand rigorous onsite testing. One project had students work with staff engineers in circuit replacement and other tasks to make sure the equipment was ready to use in Third World countries.

These projects allowed the students to work with advanced equipment and engineers in their desired field. They found unique opportunities to learn while serving in a real-world environment.  

The trip also served to show the students how their talents as engineers could fit into the missionary field. “They’re good people up there,” Shortt said. “They’re dedicated to the task, to the ministry and to the Lord.” Shortt said he wanted to give the students an encouraging exposure to the sorts of work that engineers could do in the missionary field.

“God opened my eyes to the idea that working for a company in the United States ‘doing’ engineering is not the only outlet for the skills He has given me,” Fox, the group’s student leader, said.

The willingness of these students to sacrificially offer themselves over their spring break opened unanticipated opportunities that stretched their vision for where God might have them work and serve in the future. They discovered the call to serve.

Cedarville University attracts 3,300 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