Meet Professor Bulanon

Missions with an emphasis in engineering
by Merilee A. Glass

Imagine you’re sitting in a church in Cebu, Philippines, praying. When you open your eyes, you see a girl with a red t-shirt that reads “Florida” in yellow letters.  For Dr. Duke Bulanon, this was an answer to prayer.  God sent him this sign that he was to take a job working with orange harvesting robots at the University of Florida. 

Dr. Bulanon was offered another job in Japan working for Mitsubishi.  He had tried to come to the United States two years earlier, but his visa was denied after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.  He didn’t want to go through the process of reapplying if he was only going to be denied again.  His wife suggested they go to church and pray.  So, he asked God to give him a sign.  Florida. 

Now at NNU, Dr. Bulanon, assistant professor of engineering, is teaching mechanical engineering and would love to establish an agricultural engineering research program at the University.  Professor Dr. Bulanon also has a chance to do something at NNU he couldn’t do at the University of Florida: combine his love for Christ and his love for engineering.  But how do you use an engineering degree in the mission field?

“Jesus said that when your house is built on a weak foundation, then when floods come, your house is easily destroyed.  But if your house is built on a strong foundation, then whatever wind or floods come it will not be destroyed.  And when you talk about engineering, you want to build a strong foundation, strong materials, so that when force or pressure come in they will resist.  (At NNU) we are trying to emphasize service, a world view of engineering in terms of service.  We use our knowledge here for the kingdom.  That’s our main goal.” 

One of the projects the engineering department is working on right now is a 3D printer that creates Styrofoam (polystyrene) blocks that are then put together like LEGOs, reinforced with re-bar and filled with concrete to build churches for Extreme Nazarene in Peru.  With these blocks, workers are able to build a church in less than two weeks.  

“There are lots of opportunities.  We just guide the students, open their eyes and allow God to use them.”  Assistant professor Bulanon is encouraging his students to look for possibilities to use their talents in physics and engineering to share Christ with the world.  After all, it makes sense that a carpenter who is also the cornerstone, the capstone, would be a master engineer.