Engineering Students Impacting Missionary Hospitals

After discovering the impactful work of the Karanda Mission Hospital, four Cedarville University senior mechanical engineering students – Andrew Yerkey (Dublin, Ohio), Sarah Kepner (Shepherd, Michigan), Brooke Dodson (Danville, Indiana), and Peter Tsibours (Westerville, Ohio) -- felt compelled to support the hospital’s mission by designing a much-needed earth-mover device. The concept was for their senior capstone project. 

The Karanda Mission Hospital has been serving local people in Zimbabwe, Africa, for 64 years by providing medical services and spiritual engagement. Throughout medical care, they have created gospel opportunities through Awana clubs, Reach4Life, and community outreach programs. 

The ministry has worked through issues that could hinder its work. Primarily, it has needed to keep its local roads clear and passable for travelers to the hospital, while also preparing its land to construct new buildings. These concerns are due to persistent road damage caused by the rainy seasons. 

The students, understanding these issues, focused on helping hospital leaders get an earth mover device that could minimize damage by leveling roads, moving dirt, and improving drainage. 

“We chose this project because it allowed us to use our engineering capabilities to serve others and support global missions,” said the capstone project leader Yerkey. 

The group faced major complications while trying to access affordable materials in Zimbabwe that could be attached to the hospital's John Deere 4250 tractor. Nonetheless, the project members overcame the obstacles and consolidated features of other earth-moving devices to create a specialized unit that perfectly suited the tractor in Zimbabwe.  

Yerkey’s team successfully constructed a model earth mover—one-tenth scale of an earth mover-- and began construction on the full-size model. The completion of the earth mover project, which will include a hydraulic system for the earth mover, will be handled by a new group of engineering students during the 2024-25 academic year.  Ultimately, the device will be shipped to Zimbabwe. 

The research and problem-solving of the engineering students have led to the Karanda Mission Hospital now having a clear path in the harshest conditions.  

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is a Baptist university with undergraduate programs in arts, sciences, and professional programs, and graduate programs. With an enrollment of 5,456 students in 175 areas of study, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio and is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, and high graduation and retention rates. For more information about the University, visit

Written by Jordan Foley 

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