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Engineering Global Service

Engineering Students in KenyaOften lost in the competitive and busy atmosphere of higher education is the responsibility to use one’s learned passions and skills to benefit others.

This was not the case, however, for three senior civil engineering majors last fall.

In November, Chris Senesi, from Hinckley, Ohio, Matthew Pierce, from Grove City, Ohio, and Nathan Harris, from Alexandria, Ohio, travelled to Masara, Kenya, accompanied by civil engineering professors Dr. Jonathan Smalley and Thomas Zechman, to begin work on a different kind of senior design project they call “Project Masara, Kenya.”

“Project Masara, Kenya, is more than just a senior design project; it is a project that has allowed us to take what we’ve learned as engineering students and apply those skills to help improve the lives of others,” says Senesi.

Senesi, whose initiative originally sparked the project, says he has always had a desire to do a service-based engineering project. Fortunately for his team, overseas service projects are becoming increasingly popular at ONU. After learning about SHARE Kenya, through which ONU’s pharmacy program offers a clinic rotation in Kenya, Senesi contacted Dr. Bonyo Bonyo, the director of SHARE Kenya.

After gaining support from Eric T. Baumgartner, dean of the College of Engineering, the next step was to create a student design team and locate faculty members to travel with the group. Senesi presented the idea to Pierce and Harris, both of whom share his passion for engineering service opportunities. Smalley and Zechman were both enthusiastic about the project idea and volunteered to serve as faculty advisors for the trip.

For 11 days, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 7, 2009, the team visited the SHARE Kenya Clinic in Masara, Kenya. There, they assessed the needs of the clinic and collected necessary data to successfully design and implement their projects. The team determined that the greatest needs of the clinic were supplying hot water and increasing the availability of clean water.

Senesi explains that the final steps of the project will be to take the data collected during the site visit, design two projects and create a plan of implementation. The end goal is for fellow engineering students to implement the project next year as well as design future projects for both the clinic and the village of Masara.

Senesi, Pierce and Harris all three said that it was a privilege to work with other dedicated individuals, including pharmacy majors, medical students, fellow engineers, medical professionals, and of course, the people of Masara.

With the hope to continue Project Masara, Kenya, and potentially expand the project to El Salvador, opportunities continue to grow for students at Ohio Northern to use their talents and education for service in global areas of need.


Andrew Merecicky

Senior creative writing major from New Royalton, Ohio