MACON—Mercer University student Emanuel Istudor is bringing a new meaning to the word missionary. The freshman engineering student has found a way to combine his computer savvy with his desire to help the less fortunate.
And thanks to his insight, a group of orphans in the tiny, economically depressed country of Moldova are soon going to have access to computers. It's the result of a club Istudor formed called the Engineering Missions Team.
The group of 9 Mercer engineering students have spent the past semester collecting old and used computers that they can revamp to make them suitable for a school of orphans in the country north of Romania. The students plan to ship about 20 computers to Moldova early this summer.
Some of the computers are as old as 10 years, but Istudor said while they may seem like junk to Americans, the orphans in Moldova will be thrilled to have them. "People have old computers sitting at home that would make these kids go, 'Wow!' We just sometimes take for granted the stuff we have in the U.S."
Since 1999, Istudor, a Gwinnett County resident, has spent one month each summer in Moldova working as a missionary with his church. And at the Falesti State Orphanage where he plans to send the computers, there are only a few computers, and they are used by the school administrators.
In July, the Mercer engineering student will travel to Moldova with a group of students from his church to train the orphans how to use the computers. He plans to teach a group of the older students basic typing skills, how to write a document and how to give Power Point Presentations. After Istudor teaches these students basic computer skills, he hopes that they will go on to teach the younger students.
Istudor said giving these students basic computer knowledge will help them improve their quality of life after they leave the orphanage. In Moldova, a person with computer skills is hard to come by, he said.
The work of the Engineering Missions Team will also benefit Mercer Engineering Students. "As computer engineers, we need to get hands-on experience. If we can get that hands-on experience and do something good for someone else at the same time, why not?"
Dr. Dayne Aldridge, dean of Mercer's School of Engineering, along with Mercer faculty members Kelly Carter and Bruce Grey are also members of the Engineering Missions Team.
Aldridge said he is proud of the engineering students for using their computer skills to help others. "My vision is that Mercer engineering students will be led to minister to people in many parts of the world as part of their undergraduate experience."