|Dan Dourte ’04, John Meyer (mechanical technician for the engineering department), and Moussa, a Burkinabe welder and metal craftsman at the handicap center (pictured left to right), make modifications to the first electric tricycle. They are installing the motor mount hardware to connect to the gear and chain to turn the back tire.
In 1998, two years before the tricycle project began, faculty and students adopted the name Dokimoi Ergatai, Greek for “approved workers,” for their budding organization. The name was taken from a description of Christian duty in 2 Timothy 2:15 that reflects DE’s mission. “We want to minister to both body and soul,” says Norman, “to bring the message of the gospel and the love of Christ in tangible ways to the poorest of the poor.”
DE’s holistic approach extends to its students, whose experience with DE shapes their perspectives, as well as their career and life choices, says Norman.
“DE has helped me find a vocation I wouldn’t have predicted for myself,” explains Dourte, who, in his junior year, transferred to Messiah from the Rochester Institute of Technology and plans to pursue graduate studies in agricultural and biological engineering with an eye toward world development. “Hearing about engineering meeting the needs of people in needy areas was new to me and a big part of why I wanted to come to Messiah,” he says.
While many graduates apply their technical or advocacy skills to world development projects or become missionaries, others take more traditional routes. “Many climb the corporate ladder and initiate corporate giving programs or share their expertise in the community,” explains Norman. Still others start socially conscientious businesses with policies that value their suppliers and employees.
By emphasizing both service and leadership, DE’s unique training provides essential skills for the workplace, instills a sense of calling, and ensures the program’s success. Each year, the current student director works side-by-side with his or her successor, providing continuity in a program that experiences 100 percent turnover every four years.
—W. Ray Norman, dean of the School of Mathematics, Engineering, and Business
“To field a team requires an enormous amount of logistics, which is all done by student teams,” says Norman. “It’s not just engineering, but also pulls in accounting, business, and computer skills,” he adds.
Having grown from a handful of students in 1998 to over 75 last year, Norman now sees DE
as a model program for future ventures within the school. Last year, Vader was appointed director of the new Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research, which will house DE and help students pilot parallel programs that test classroom theory and laboratory design in practical settings.
Dourte recalls doing just that during the three weeks he built Yempaabou’s tricycle in Mahadaga. “We had prototyped an electric tricycle in Grantham, but wanted to know it could be done in the local craftsperson’s workshop with his tools,” explains Dourte. “Another challenge was locating parts for the design in the local market. We wanted the Burkinabe people to see that it’s something accessible, something they can replicate.”
Yempaabou’s success has exceeded expectations, says Dourte. “He’s been able to use
[the tricycle] throughout this first year and go where he wants to go.” The tricycle has also been repaired locally several times, demonstrating that the local people can sustain this
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