Student engineers take part in international missions

San Antonio Senior Natalie Glen taking a break with kids in Haiti. Photo courtesy of Brian Thomas

By Samantha Amaro | Reporter

Students go on missions trips for a variety of reasons, for some the goal of helping communities around the world is enough motivation. Engineers with a Mission is a Baylor organization of students that use their chosen fields of study to make the world a better place for the less fortunate, making a difference all over the world.

Engineering students work with communities in Kenya, Rwanda and Haiti in addition to projects located here in Waco and around Texas. Projects range from solar powered chicken coops, to windmill water pumps, to solar power and ceramic water filtration systems.

The most recent mission took place in Laredo and an upcoming service mission is set to take place in northwestern Mexico. Engineering students annually attend the trips in a group ranging from six to 10, accompanied by Professor Brian Thomas, senior lecturer of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and Faculty Master of Teal Residential College.

Although Engineers with a Mission has seen hundreds of student members since its formation in 2004, Thomas has stuck around as the co-founder and faculty sponsor after all these years.

“What we want to build is an awareness of how engineering can be used to help people in need, help people who are marginalized, help people who are impoverished,” Thomas said.

In addition to missions overseas and in nearby communities, Engineers with a Mission also hosts events on campus. One of these events, Camp (In)Justice, is a social justice awareness event that is promoted campus wide on an annual basis.

Engineers with a Mission president, Seattle, Wash. junior Jennifer Clark, said she was drawn to this group as soon as she learned about it when she was a senior in high school.

“We want to create sustainable solutions for people instead of creating a dependency,” Clark said.

She said that though money and research can be contributed to assist other communities in need, by simply being aware to where these go and how could definitely help the members, as engineers, to make a difference.

Chicago, Ill. graduate student Jack Ramsey, was president of the organization last semester before he graduated. He is still involved with Engineers with a Mission on a less hands-on approach, leaving Clark in charge. He said he was drawn to serve with this organization because it integrated three aspects he found important.

“The combination of humanitarian service, the Christian perspective and Engineering was something I was looking for,” Ramsey said.

He found that this organization was more fitting for those who wished to serve the disadvantaged in a different way – to serve in a typical way.

The organization also offers other ways to help out in the community. Though Camp (In)Justice and their missions are two of their more popular engagements with the community, they are also actively involved in the local area here in Waco. Members provide tutoring to local schools and introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to young students, though the focus is mainly on math and science.

“We as Baylor students can make a difference to not just alleviate poverty but root it out,” Clark said.