The growing refugee crisis around the world has become not only a humanitarian crisis but an engineering one as well. One group of college seniors are working to design and engineer an affordable shelter for refugees across the world.
The engineering team at LeTourneau University in Texas have spent the last 7 months trying to find the best solution to shelters for refugees in Greece. The effort is part of a national competition held jointly by John Brown University and Samaritan’s Purse. The ultimate goal of the intercollegiate competition is to find the best shelter design that can be implemented around the world.
Ten senior engineering students, varying from mechanical engineers to civil, are continually working to design two competing shelter designs for the competition. Named SafeHome, the shelter design team wants to build shelters not just to keep refugees safe, but one that they can “grow and build communities in,” according to Katie Hames via CBS 19. Katie is just one of the many engineers focusing their senior year on solving the refugee crisis. That underscores a deeper sense of service to engineering that much of the team feels. Despite the political issues circulating about refugees, the team feels “a lot better creating a solution to the problem as opposed to complaining, defending or getting up in arms about the situation,” according to Brent Ahrend via the Longview News Journal.
Specifications on how the shelters need to be designed are laid out on the competition website by John Brown University. Most notably, the shelters need to be able to accommodate a family of four with 3.5 square meters of space per person. Costs must be kept at a minimum of 1500 USD per shelter, and the completed structures will need to withstand an array of tests ranging from wind loading to seismic loading.
[Image Source: SafeHome]
The SafeHome team is split into two design groups, each working on their own to develop a solution to the problem. On top of the engineering development of the shelters, the team also is working to develop a camp plan to allow for a better sense of community and operation in refugee camps across the globe.
All of the work from both of the teams, as well as many other colleges across the US, will be displayed and tested in late April of this year. Based on an extensive list of criteria, the refugee shelters will be judged and ranked. Upon completion of the competition, Samaritan’s Purse may develop a shelter for widespread use based on factors from one or many of the teams at the competition.