A local college and a local ministry team up to provide generators in Nigeria.
International Technical Electric and Construction, the only ministry in the world that provides electricity to missions in need, contacted Pennsylvania College of Technology in 1998 or 1999, said Kenneth Kuhns, associate professor of electrical technologies and electrical power generation technology at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
"It's a win-win situation," Paul Kinley, ministry coordinator of I-TEC, said.
Jim Neagle, right, and a student work with International Technical Electric and Construction to equip impoverished schools and hospitals with generators.
Kuhns said that generators were popular around the time the ministry spoke with him because many people had concerns about "Y2K" (the year 2000, when people thought technology might stop working).
Kuhns wanted to give his students training with on-site power generators in both the mechanical and the technical aspects.
He brings the students to I-TEC, at 23 Green Hollow Road, Montoursville, every April to spend six hours a week that month working on donated or bought generators.
"Not everything that's donated is operable," Kuhns said. "It's a good thing for the students because it's benefited them. This year they had 10 to 12 generators set up."
The biggest challenge of the generators for one of Kuhns' students, Tim Funk, is that the generators are from a wide range of years and conditions. Some have manuals and some do not.
"When we have a generator donated, we know nothing about it," Funk said. "Does it work? Is it new?"
The oldest generator Funk worked with was from the 1950s. To him, a new generator means from 1980s or more recent.
"If you can't identify the problem, you can't fix it." Kuhns said.
Funk is Kuhns' first student who will attend a mission trip with I-TEC. He will be teamed with Jim Neagle, missionary, who has been helping to install and fix generators in Nigeria.
On Neagle's first trip, they boarded him "on a plane to Nigeria to fix generators I never saw."
The generators they repair are in a variety of different facilities, such as a rest home, a dental clinic and a hospital.
Neagle always tells the people that he helps that it is their responsibility to properly the maintain the generators if they want to request his help to fix it when needed.
"Here (in the United States), it is a rarity when power goes out," Neagle said. "Over there, it's common."
He said that just because it is common, does not make it any less dangerous for the Nigerians.
"It's a matter of life and death in some facilities," he said. "Some places -- schools, missionary compounds -- only run the generators during the day to try to conserve them because of the price of fuel."
Since propane and natural gas is not available overseas, only diesel generators can be used. If someone donates a non-diesel generator to I-TEC, another person usually sells it for one that can be used.
Older generators are preferred, Neagle said because they do not have the sophisticated computer programming more recent ones use.
"These generators are perfect for third world countries," he said. "We're not dealing with pricey items."
Funk and Neagle will leave for Nigeria Aug. 29 and will return Sept. 28.