Thursday, January 26, 2012

Learning Beyond the Lab


I hope you had the opportunity to read about our engineering professor Norman Reese and his "Frontier Wheelchair" project on the front page of Sunday's Longview News-Journal. (See it here.)  And I hope you didn't miss the newspaper's editorial on Tuesday, "Good works: LeTourneau wheelchair project offers a lesson all can learn from." (See it here.) Local television station KETK also interviewed the students working on the project. (See their story here.)

Professor Reese's mechanical engineering students are working to improve wheelchairs used in developing countries -- where terrain and streets (or the lack of) are quite different than here in the U.S. His students traveled to Guatemala over Christmas break where they worked with Hope Haven International Ministries to improve the wheelchair being manufactured there.

Karen Rispen and students in the School of Arts & Sciences have additional wheelchair research underway. Professor Rispen's "Wheels" project has been at work in Africa now for a couple of years. Both Norman and Karen are focusing on the unique needs of the disabled in developing nations.

The Longview News-Journal editorial writers captured the spirit of LeTourneau ingenuity when they wrote:

"As often is the case at LeTourneau, this teaching project is going far beyond the typical classroom and lab learning experience. It is teaching students cultural sensitivity and giving them experience working with those who have different abilities.

And it should teach all of us that sometimes seemingly small changes and caring, along with a willingness to use our own skills for a greater good, have the potential to make big impacts in the lives of others."

As Professor Kelly Liebengood leads the development of our Center for Global Service Learning, that's our focus: creating unique learning experiences where lives are improved and God is given the glory.