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Making A Difference Through Engineering
April 4, 2006

The recording device designed by five Calvin College senior engineering students is nondescript.

But when completed the small, plastic device, which measures just four by nine inches, will store 10 hours of professional quality digital recording.

More importantly, the heat-resistant and humidity-tolerant device will replace the jumble of equipment currently used by Epic Partners International to record native speakers telling Bible stories -- which the organization then uses in its evangelism work.

For the Calvin students designing the device was both an academic exercise and a real-world experience.

"It was exciting to do something technical but also something for the kingdom of God," says Michael Moselle.

He, along with Bryan Klingenberg, Eric Lundy, Josh Jarrard and Scott Heupel created the device for the 2005-2006 senior design project at Calvin.

Their team name is "Microphone Missionaries."


Team “Pump it Up,” composed of Daniel Clark, Jared Smith, Dave Schroeder and Wes Hoekman, is designing a well pumping system that, inverting common practice, puts all of the well’s moving parts above ground where they are easily accessible. The pedal-powered pumping system, which generates air pressure to bring water to the surface, will be used in developing nations where clean drinking water is scarce. “You might wonder how much water you can bubble up through air pressure, and, it turns out, it’s quite a bit,” Vanderleest says.

Team “Duck Hunt,” composed of Ann Nieuwkoop, Chad Nyenhuis and Ashley Baker, is putting together a remote-controlled net to trap Merganser ducks to treat them for the parasite that causes common swimmer’s itch. The duck catcher was inspired by the research of Calvin biology professor Curt Blankespoor.

Team “Got Juice?,” composed of Jeff Blech, Josh Cypher, Steve Krueger, Joyce VanderWeide and Kayt Vincent, is developing a grinder that will retain the juice as well as the pulp of the cassava, a staple crop in Uganda.

Team “Final Assembly,” composed of Peter Malefyt, Freeland Shaw, Monika Gunnar, and Junior Kanu, is finding a semi-automated solution to pedestal assembly at Knoll, Inc. in Muskegon, where workers can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from the current assembly process.

Team “ATTACH,” composed of Daniel Ateru, Ub Essien, and Clarence Medema, is designing an electronic navigation and automatic hitching system to guide a driver in hooking a trailer to an automobile.

Team “Silence is Golden,” composed of Nick Ellens, Jared Heys, Matt Cosnek and Ryan Smith, is prototyping a base station to silence cell phones in public areas like movie theaters.

Team “CHEM-EARS,” composed of Adam Jones, Jonathan Bush, Michael Heslinga, Maxine Bent and Larae Baker, is designing a plant to produce styrene from benzene and ethane precursor, using already patented processes. “This team is doing a fair amount of economic as well as engineering analysis,” VanderLeest says.

Team “Batteries Not Included,” composed of David Dickensheets, Knoa Knapper, David Qu and Matt Scholten, is developing a tire pressure monitoring system that doesn’t require batteries.

Team “BOAT!” composed of Marcus Pettinga, Luke Joyce, Zac Snyder and Marcus Krosschell, is designing a paddleboat that uses hydrofoil technology. “They’re pretty confident that they’ll be able to get it up out of the water on human power,” VanderLeest says. “They were experimenting on Reed’s Lake in January.”

Team “Stream Come True,” composed of Andrew Oosterhouse, Ben Bufford, Jermey Gajadhar, and Nick Goote, is creating a handheld computer that grabs media wirelessly from a library server.

Team “The Athletics,” composed of Brad Holkeboer, Matt Hulst, Jim Hoekstra, and Tom Burry, is designing a press box and snow management solutions for the Calvin track.

Team “The Crew,” composed of Lynnelle Berkenpas, Jake Mudde, Meredith Hoppe, Chris Hanchett and Danielle Van Hal, is doing the structural engineering for a boathouse on the Grand River for the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. “That team has to work with government agencies to show that the boathouse won’t adversely affect the flow of the river in a flooding situation,” VanderLeest said.

Two teams are working on projects related to Angkor Global University in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Team “All for Angkor,” composed of Kirk Starnes, Andy Lynch, Katie Anderson, Brad Jansen and Jon Larsen-in collaboration with architecture students from Handong Global University in South Korea-is working on a preliminary design for the first academic building for Angkor Global University. The team will do site development and structural design and analysis for the facility.

Team Angkor WATerworks, composed of Tim Schrotenboer, Patti Brinks, Eric Wildschut and Ben Kuiken, is working (also in conjunction with the Korean university) to bring water to the Cambodian university. Their irrigation system will siphon water from Lake Tonle Sap to the site of the campus. “The shoreline of the lake moves a huge amount from dry to wet season,” VanderLeest says about one of the team’s challenges, which also includes working within a budget laid down by the governor of the region where the university will be built.

And while the Microphone Missionaries were thrilled to put their engineering skills toward such a concrete conclusion, the Calvin professors in charge of the annual senior design projects are quick to point out that not every project needs to have such an obvious religious or faith-based objective.

Engineering professor Steve VanderLeest says simply, yet emphatically: "We see every project as kingdom work."

The senior design projects at Calvin are the products of a yearlong capstone course, the culmination of an engineering student's four years of study.

The student teams (representing various groupings of mechanical; electrical and computer; civil; and chemical engineering students) work for two semesters to tackle a real-life design quandary in an array of different areas.

This year the kingdom work represented by the engineering projects ranges from a duck catcher to a cell phone muter, while geographically the projects include the banks of the Grand River and the banks of Lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia.

“That’s what engineering is,” VanderLeest says. "It’s solving real-life problems and producing technology for people.” And working within design constraints of all kinds is the engineer’s constant challenge, he said.

The finished senior design projects will be available for public viewing at an open house, held 4:30-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, 2006 at the Calvin engineering building. A formal banquet for the engineering majors follows, during which they will present their projects.

Meanwhile, VanderLeest is enjoying watching the senior design projects make progress.

"We’re starting to see the prototypes and 3-D CAD models being produced," he says. "As those things start coming together, it's exciting. And, for me, it’s fun to watch them dealing with the challenges."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson