World Vision Competition Produces Disaster Relief Shelter Designs


Press Release Photo
The First place team from JBU stand in front of their shelter before the wind and water testing. Pictured left to right: Zach Rich, Drew Joslin, Joel Thomas and Josh Goseland.

Siloam Springs, Arkansas (April 24, 2012) - World Vision announced the winners of the Disaster Shelter Design Competition hosted this weekend on the campus of John Brown University. Teams from JBU, Judson University and University of Louisiana-Monroe placed first, second and third, respectively.

The purpose of the disaster shelter competition was for undergraduate teams to “develop a prototype shelter that would help World Vision and its field partners with their disaster relief mission,” said Mark Terrill, assistant professor of construction management at JBU. In the early weeks after a disaster – earthquake, tsunami, hurricane – survivors may be provided with basic materials, such as tents and tarps, but transitional shelters that are safe and appropriate to the environment are often needed until families can rebuild permanent homes.

Five teams (two from Judson University, one from University of Louisiana-Monroe, and two from John Brown) competed on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21. Competing teams displayed their shelters in their compact, unconstructed form, along with required tools and instructions, and gave a 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges. The assembly of the prototypes was timed, and actually inhabited overnight by a student judge posing as a disaster “victim.”  Assembled units were subjected to earthquake, snow load, wind and water testing before the final inspection and scoring took place.

“We were delighted that this competition incorporated water and wind load assessments, and that student judges spent the night in the competition shelters. These realistic elements help us as judges evaluate the real-world use of these shelters,” said Betsy Baldwin, competition judge and program management officer of World Vision's Humanitarian Emergency Affairs team. “We hope this event will inspire other, similar competitions and partnerships between academia and aid agencies to spur innovations that can assist disaster survivors.”

In addition to Baldwin, Brett Moore, a shelter and infrastructure specialist who serves on World Vision’s Global Rapid Response Team, and Kent Davis and Kevin Schweizer, both architecture and engineering specialists for World Housing Solution served as judges for the event.

Video from the event and more information can be found online at

The winning John Brown University team was supported by a grant from Turner Construction of Dallas, Texas. tarpARMOR of Rogers, Ark. fabricated the dome cover used in the design.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

John Brown University is a private Christian university, ranked first among Southern regional colleges by U.S. News & World Report and is listed as one of America's Best Colleges by Forbes. JBU enrolls more than 2,100 students from 41 states and 44 countries. JBU is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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