JBU Hosts 5th Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition

Samaritan’s Purse and JBU Partner to Find Innovative Disaster Response Shelters

Press Release Photo
An emergency shelter design yields to the wind machine, affectionately named “The Wolf," which can create concentrated winds of up to 150 mph.

SILOAM SPRINGS, ARK. (April 23, 2016) — John Brown University hosted the 5th Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, April 21-23 on JBU’s Siloam Springs campus. A panel of judges evaluated the shelter designs for possible implementation in relief efforts worldwide.

“A competition like this is a great resource for everyone involved,” said Mark Terrill, assistant professor of construction management and competition coordinator. “This competition provides some of the region’s most innovative engineers, architects and construction management students an opportunity to create practical solutions to real-world problems, like the current refugee crisis.”

This year’s competition scenario is based on needs of displaced people and refugees currently fleeing to Albania and Macedonia from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The shelters were required to be easily transported and constructed, spacious enough for a family of four, culturally appropriate for the given situation, support a year or longer of transitional living, and cost less than $1,500 to reproduce.

Nine teams from universities including Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa), Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas), Gyeongsang National University (Jinju, South Korea), Judson University (Elgin, Illinois), Murray State University (Murray, Kentucky), University of Arkansas at Little Rock and John Brown University submitted preliminary shelter plans in November and presented their refined prototypes for durability tests on campus this week. Testing included earthquake sustainability, heat retention, overnight habitability and wind resistance.

New to this year’s competition was an emergency shelter construction test. Samaritan’s Purse supplied all nine teams with a kit of boards, plastic sheeting, tools, nails, wire and corrugated galvanized iron. Teams were evaluated on their ability to quickly design and construct emergency shelters from the given materials. The shelters were scored separately from the long-term shelters and were tested against wind and water.

Throughout the competition, teams had the opportunity to win individual events. Murray State University won the shelter assembly challenge with a set up time of 11 minutes. Dordt College won the heat retention test with a 40-degree temperature drop over 30 minutes. UALR won the wind challenge, their shelter withstanding 130 mph winds for over two minutes before blowing over.

Overall, teams were scored not only on their shelter’s performance on the individual events, but also on their presentations detailing their shelter’s schematics, design and materials. Winners were announced today at the awards ceremony. UALR received first place, Pittsburg State received second place and Gyeongsang National University received third place overall. Additionally, in the short-term emergency shelter construction event, JBU won first place, UALR won second place and Pittsburg State won third place.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Ranked No. 2 among Southern Regional Colleges by U.S. News, JBU enrolls more than 2,700 students from 42 states and 39 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 50 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.

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