Facebook8Twitter0Google+0LinkedIn0

The motto for NNU’s Department of Engineering’s first missional engineering capstone design project is found in Matthew 16:18: “On this foundation I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” They take it literally.

Engineering teams

This project is really at the heart of what we’re all about in engineering at NNU," said Dr. Parke, "the opportunity to apply our skills to advance God’s kingdom and to meet human needs in both the third world and the U.S.”

Extreme Nazarene first approached NNU in the fall of 2010. Thirty fellowships in Peru had been identified as being ready for a church, but traditional building materials were not strong enough and required masonry skill. They needed a stronger substance that could be produced on-site by local unskilled laborers. The answer? Styrofoam.

The original plan was to build the churches using polystyrene blocks (IFCs). These foam building blocks, much like Legos, fit together to create walls, benches, tables and chairs and are then reinforced with concrete and rebar to build strong yet inexpensive structures. However, shipping the blocks to Peru was expensive and not a feasible long-term plan. The NNU team was challenged to design, build and deliver a portable block-molding plant powered by a diesel generator that could produce the ICFs on-site.

“This project is really at the heart of what we’re all about in engineering at NNU: the opportunity to apply our skills to advance God’s kingdom and to meet human needs in both the third world and the U.S.,” said Dr. Stephen Parke, professor of engineering. “We’re excited to design new technologies to build churches both in Peru and in other third-world countries as well.”

Dr. Parke and his colleagues at the University are deeply committed to the work to which God has called them. And, their students take notice.

“It’s really exciting to come here and see the professors not only passionate about teaching the subject matter—be it engineering, math or English—but also to see them so excited and on fire for God. That instills a fire for God in me,” sophomore David Vinson (Wash.) explained.

Under the guidance of Dr. Parke, the team investigated and tested many different production methods and companies for both polystyrene and polyurethane blocks. A team of seniors went to Peru in the summer of 2011 to help build the first two churches with the polystyrene blocks and gain insight into the building process. They began their senior year fall 2011 with a new plan and enthusiasm for what God is doing in Peru.

EXTREME ENGINEERING IN PERU

Follow Dr. Parke, David Vincent and Jesse Baggenstos as they venture from Nampa, Idaho to Arequipa, Peru and put their block building machine in to action.

“Getting to know the people by working with them and sharing stories with them was an amazing experience,” said senior Andrew Peterson (Wash.). “This project was an answer to their prayers from God. Their passion and faith really made me want to become more involved on the project.”

The difference in this project and this team was immediately recognizable.

We are using the creative aspects of engineering to build a foundation for eternal change and building blocks for God, in love of his people," said senior Michael Whiting.

“I’m used to students working hard on senior projects—that’s true for all the majors at NNU—but you can really tell when it goes from being a project and becomes a real, personal commitment and encounter with serving the Lord,” said Dr. Parke.

Throughout the school year the seniors worked to perfect the process, even staying up until 1 a.m. during spring break to make sure it would be ready to send to the mission field in the summer.

This experience allowed the students to love people they had never met while using their God-given talents and what they learned throughout their time at NNU. In the end it was difficult to tell whether it was the Peruvians or the students who felt most blessed by the experience.

Senior Michael Whiting (Idaho) described the project this way: “It is not self-seeking, but seeking to serve people through the love that God instills in us. We are using the creative aspects of engineering to build a foundation for eternal change and building blocks for God, in love of his people.”

In the weeks following commencement, the team delivered a block-molding plant that allows blocks to be made on-site using polyurethane, representing a 20-percent savings over the polystyrene blocks with which they started. While there, the team helped set up and trained the Peruvians to use the new equipment and establish a small-scale production. Over the next two years, more than 20 more churches will be completed. In the future, it is hoped that the technology will expand and be used in other third-world countries around the globe.

MORE FEATURED STORIES

Founders' Day: Marking the Milestone

Five participants in the groundbreaking reenactment photo consider the centennial and the future of NNU.

Crafting Community

After 22 years of service, Chaplain Gene Schandorff is retiring. HIs decades of service have been significant in crafting NNU's campus community and spiritual identity.

Designing for the Pros

When he’s not making history, Cody can be found in the Seahawks and Sounders’ practice facility working on designs for anything from player cards and posters to social media graphics and web ads.

NNU Centennial Year in Review

"The quality of the historical photos, stories and more really made a powerful connection between past and present. What an incredible time to be a part of the NNU family!”