“As an engineer, you will work in places or with people who aren’t Christians; and you may be the only witness they will know,” Dr. John Becher shares with his engineering students. His knowledge comes firsthand because he spent his entire undergrad years and most of his grad years without Christ. During his last year of graduate school at Ohio State University, an undergraduate chemical engineering student led him to the Lord.
After completing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Ohio State, Dr. Becher sought God’s direction for what to do next.
“My girlfriend (now my wife) and I prayed for several weeks about where God was leading me,” said Dr. Becher, who had five job offers upon finishing his degree. Through a series of prayers and circumstances, the answer was clear—the Eastman Kodak company.
“Kodak was my lowest monetary offer, and I knew no Christians in Rochester (NY); so it was neat to see how God provided a church home for us. After three years at Kodak, I was somewhat bored with my job, but God provided a Christian supervisor in my division. At the time, that was instrumental in my moving to the Research labs. After 33 years there, the job ended, and I had a peace that God who had closed a door would open another one...and He did. Not exactly right away but just when we needed it...the job at PCC.”
Dr. Becher was willing to trust the Lord’s direction in his life and highly anticipated sharing all he had learned with his students. Looking back, he could see how the Lord had already prepared him to teach at PCC. “My master’s degree provided me most of the graduate course background for the engineering courses I teach at PCC,” he said. “The Ph.D. expanded that list of courses in my minors of chemistry and math.”
Now, for the past four years, Dr. Becher has taught classes like Engineering Economics, Thermodynamics, Automatic Process Control, Fluid Mechanics, and Heat & Power Design Lab.
“I am very bullish about the engineering program at PCC. I have spent time comparing the content of the courses I teach with those from other ‘big name’ universities, and we are commensurate,” said Dr. Becher. “We also are now ABET accredited, which puts us on the same page with them. The biggest reason I would recommend PCC is the Christian atmosphere and Christian teachers.”
As one of those Christian teachers, Dr. Becher believes “the most rewarding thing about teaching mechanical engineering is the students. I’ll never forget that first day of class at PCC when I looked out at the room of students, and God gave me such a love for them.”
Ministering to over 100 students each semester, Dr. Becher sees his love grow with each passing year. Often, he has students who don’t really understand much about the field they’ve chosen to study.
“I think many students, particularly in engineering, don’t understand what an engineer is or what he does,” he said. “Engineering is not an easy curriculum, so I feel it’s important to have some idea of what you want to do with this degree.” Over the years, the Lord has given Dr. Becher a variety of experiences as an engineer that he can now share with his students.
“I have found that as Christians we have a work ethic which is hard to find in the world today. This combination of a grasp of the fundamentals in engineering along with a good work ethic is unbeatable.”