New Civil Engineering Program Seeks to Have Worldwide Impact

by Shelby McGuire

While serving overseas, members of the engineering department faculty saw first hand the need for clean water and energy in parts of the world where these commodities are not readily available. They also saw how providing these basic necessities could pave the way for gospel impact. They organized a solution to this need by implementing a missions-minded civil engineering program at Cedarville.

“Our faculty sensed the need for a civil engineering program when we started to do missions work in Africa and South America,” said Dr. Robert Chasnov, dean of the school of engineering and computer science. “Developing nations need help with their water systems and energy development, which is civil engineering work. This degree continues Cedarville’s commitment to academic excellence and gospel impact.”

In January, Cedarville trustees approved the new civil engineering program to be added to the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the program will officially launch in the fall 2018 semester.

To spearhead this new program, Cedarville recently hired Dr. Stephen Ayers. He brings experience in teaching and program development from his time as chair of the engineering department at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.

Ayers also brings a passion to equip students to show love and compassion to the world in a tangible way through engineering.

Engineers use science and math to solve problems with the goal of making people’s’ lives better with their solutions. Civil engineers deal specifically with improving the infrastructure of communities.

Ayers describes infrastructure as “the underlying stuff that lets modern life happen as we know it.”

Civil engineering makes possible the roads, bridges and buildings that society relies on every day, as well as clean water to drink.  

Students pursuing civil engineering can look forward to a hands-on learning experience working with innovative equipment.The department is currently planning to build a new civil engineering lab.

This lab will be a separate building that will house a practical learning environment. The new lab will including an area for structural work where students will build and test structural elements, and also a water processing unit and a soil lab.

Ayers said he plans to implement industry based project work where students will do things like design bridge structures. He also plans to provide students with engineering service work opportunities in Senegal and West Africa. These are ongoing projects dealing with engineered water solutions that Ayers has been a part of for the past several years.

To provide a water source in these places, drilling a hole into the ground to reach a water supply is the first step. Then the bore hole must be cased, flushed, and stabilized before it is converted into a stable well that can be pumped.

Freshman Joshua Boamah said he is planning to switch his major from mechanical engineering to civil engineering this fall. He said he wants to pursue a career in civil engineering and also use his skills on the mission field.

Boamah wrestled with this decision for some time as the switch would add an extra year to his schedule, but a friend gave him some wise counsel and he decided, to make the switch.

“It’s better to take the risk of pursuing a career that you know you will enjoy the rest of your life,” Boamah said, “instead of sticking with a career that you know you will hate the rest of your life.”

Boamah is interested in pursuing a career in construction with his civil engineering degree because of his fascination with the structure of buildings and how they work. He was also inspired by Ayers to pursue missions in that area as well. He thinks that building homes for people would be a great way to put his skills into practice to serve God and others.

Career options for students with a civil engineering degree include industry jobs such as working for government agencies, small consultancies, or engineering firms. A civil engineering degree also equips students to work in the mission field using their skills to provide an avenue to share gospel by providing basic necessities of life.  

“Civil engineering will provide Cedarville students the opportunity to impact the world through missions,” said Thomas White, president. “Building bridges, developing safe roads, providing clean and consistent water can open doors to the gospel through loving others as ourselves. I am excited to see the eternal impact our civil engineering faculty and students will have on the world.”

Shelby McGuire is a Freshman Journalism major and writer for Cedars. She enjoys drinking tea, crocheting scarves, and power lifting.

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