Arthur Musah, a junior from Ghana, is applying what he learned in the classroom to help people in his country. The 20-year-old student studying electrical engineering and computer science recently developed a way to make cooking in Ghana easier, cheaper, and better for the environment. And all you need is a coffee can, a bucket, and a few bags of flour and sawdust.

Musah, who designed a way to make charcoal briquettes from cassava flour and sawdust, a waste product of the timber industry in Ghana, says: “The villagers now cook on firewood. Trees are cut down. The charcoal briquettes would be an alternative method that’s environmentally friendly, and that might be a big plus.”

Musah, who worked on the project with junior Rachana Oza, is a student in the Public Service Design Seminar, one of MIT ‘s service learning courses, where students work on engineering projects that help people in the community. “It’s great to learn science and engineering, but it’s really cool to apply it to help people in the U. S. and developing countries,” he says. “It feels so good to actually do something with what I am learning.”

Most often in the classroom, he says, he’ll analyze a physics problem or solve a chemistry question, “but you don’t get to actually develop a product that will go into the world to help people. Usually in class, you’re just taking knowledge and not giving anything back.”

Musah is unsure of his life purpose, he says, but after this project, he believes it will revolve around helping others. “I care about world peace and the AIDS situation in Africa. And if there’s a way for me to help, I’d like to do that. “I feel very privileged to be at MIT. I have had so many opportunities that others have not. Giving just seems right.”