Team Sow What: Brian Katerberg, Kristin De Groot, Dan Schrik and Andy Vander Moren
Team Sow What: Brian Katerberg, Kristin De Groot, Dan Schrik and Andy Vander Moren

Putting Engineering in practice with Faith

Amaranth grain mill
"We wanted to do something that was Third World oriented, something that was helping people rather than something that was fun for the moment without a purpose."

~ Brian Katerberg, engineering major

Amaranth is a broadleaf plant that grows to between two and eight feet tall. Amaranth grain has the highest nutrition per pound of any known cereal crop; its seeds are sold as a health food in the United States. Because amaranth sells for three times more than corn does, it is an attractive crop to impoverished Kenyan farmers and their families. But until recently, these farmers didn't have very good mills for processing this cash crop.

Enter team "Sow What?"

Team "Sow What?" was one of several Calvin senior engineering design teams responsible for solving real-world engineering quandaries. The team — Brian Katerberg, Kristin De Groot, Dan Schrik and Andy Vander Moren — designed a small, hand-crankable mill that both threshes and winnows amaranth seed and is tailored to the needs of farmers in the global south.

Volunteers who now assemble and distribute the mills are so pleased with the student-designed prototype that they have ordered several mills for farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and Belize.

Calvin engineering professor Steve VanderLeest says that the amaranth mill is a good example of one of the purposes behind the required senior design project: "We like to see our teams use their engineering and put it in practice with their faith."

Students in Ghana
The Semester in Ghana program

Transforming Students' World and Life View

Each fall 15 Calvin students are enriched by spending a semester in Ghana, immersing themselves in Western African culture.

Lauren Colyn
"The Semester in Ghana isn't a mission program; it's not a service program; it's a learning program."

~ David Hoekema, director of Calvin's Semester in Ghana program

"Several times we have been cautioned not to go into Ghana like colonists," says David Hoekema, professor of philosophy and director of Calvin's Semester in Ghana program. "It's not our job to go in and give them what they need. There are tremendous riches there, strong familial ties and a very strong faith. In the long run, it's got to be them using what they have, locally, to make things better."

Each fall the Semester in Ghana program takes about 15 Calvin students — who know that they may be facing four months of cold showers and spotty electricity — to the Univer- sity of Ghana, where they take classes and immerse themselves in West African culture.

Calvin junior Lauren Colyn became more aware of social injustice and politics while in Ghana. "They held their presidential elections a couple of months after we had our elections in the United States," she says. "Just being aware of how the Ghanaians got so involved in the American elections, yet many Americans don't know anything about elections happening outside the U.S., especially in Ghana — it was eye-opening." Says Hoekema, "I see tremendous personal growth among the students. Students who may not have been attentive to others, or who have been living in their own cocoons become much more open, informed and flexible in their thinking. The biggest benefit is that the students become aware of the problems in Africa and understand that the way people live their lives in the rest of the world shapes the lives of those in developing countries."

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