Engineering with a purpose
by Anna Lee, Class of 2004
“I love the place and the people. PNG is home, and the people of PNG are my family. In Papua New Guinea, the phrase to refer to someone of your same tribe or language group is won tok, meaning speaking the same language; on a deeper note, it means that you identify with and hold a responsibility to those who are your won toks. The people of PNG are my won toks,” says senior Josiah Radcliffe, a mechanical engineering major, who grew up as a missionary kid in PNG.
Although PNG will always be home, Josiah found in NNU another community to prepare him academically, personally and spiritually. When Josiah was in high school, he developed a passion for engineering while observing the construction of a hydroelectric power system at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. NNU’s Dr. Stephen Parke and two student engineering teams participated in aspects of that project, including designing a water distribution system. During that time, Josiah made connections with NNU that would eventually lead him to transfer here to pursue his engineering degree.
Josiah, Jonathan and faculty advisor Dr. Parke traveled to Myanmar to put the system into action. “We gave the tower plans to the contractor in Myanmar in November so that they could complete the tower by the time we arrived in January. The goal was to install the water pumping and storage system and the first components necessary for the piping network to be used as the compound expands.”
Josiah continues, “The biggest highlight was being able to successfully install a well pump and water storage tanks and to see the residents go from drawing buckets of water up from the well several times a day to utilizing the running water system that we were able to install for them. On the last day we were there, the new students who were going to be trained to be pastors were just arriving, and it was a blessing to meet them and see how the work we had been doing was going to be used for furthering the work of the Gospel in Myanmar.”
Dr. Parke also noted the incredible impact the project had on the community in Myanmar. “This trip was the culmination of two years of senior project teams’ work. The students started the design from scratch and left Myanmar with functioning water and LED lighting systems in place. I am so proud of their diligence and commitment.”
Parke continues, “It was especially cool to see Josiah take on a leadership role and to be able to pass on to another community the same type of gift that was given to his in Papua New Guinea.”
Both NNU’s community and its challenging engineering education have been highlights for Josiah. He says, “NNU’s unique Christian liberal arts education has been an amazing environment, challenging me to continue to put my faith and education in communication with each other. It has tied each strand of my journey together, showing me how interconnected life, faith and learning really are.”
Now that Josiah has joined the won tok of NNU, he will remain a part of the tribe of the university wherever he goes from here. Those next plans include looking for a job locally and then pursuing graduate school to study aerospace engineering next spring.
“There are so many incredible experiences that I’ve had here at NNU that it would be difficult to name all of them, but every one of them is intricately tied to the community, the family of the NNU students, faculty and staff. NNU has been life-changing, and I will always look back on my years here with many fond memories.”