Photo: Competition Summary

Competition Summary

2018 Competition

Summary of the competition is as follows:

  1. The 2018 Disaster Shelter Competition will incorporate consideration of all phases of disaster response – the initial phase which requires “emergency” shelters, the second phase which requires “transitional” shelters (1-3 years), and the final phase which requires permanent shelters.

The Competition design scenario for 2018 for the Transitional (or Core) Shelter is a combination Innovative Shelter Design and Basic Temporary Camp Plan, providing shelter for individuals who have lost their homes in an earthquake.  The scenario for the 2018 competition is based on the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015.  The earthquake epicenter was located in the mountains more than 40 miles outside of Katmandu.  Katmandu, the capital of Nepal and home to almost a million people was heavily impacted. The effects of the earthquake stretched well beyond Katmandu destroying homes in many rural villages some of which are located as high as 11,000 ft.  Some of these remote villages had limited road access even before the earthquake and they are now almost completely cut off due to landslides.  Shelters should address local conditions in Nepal and meet Sphere standards in as many areas as possible including cultural accommodation, security, packing, durability, upgradability, etc. (see scoring matrix).  Consider that the terrain in the rural areas will make access difficult and shelters may have to be transported by hand, donkey, or helicopter.  Considering the temperatures at high elevations, the thermal capabilities of the shelters will be important.  Since the impact included a densely populated urban area (Katmandu), teams should also develop a basic camp plan assuming they will have sufficient land area to accommodate a 5000 person camp (1250 shelters) with space as required by Sphere Handbook.  Space in this urban area is limited so creativity is required but camp plan should be based on Sphere Handbook and should include a proposed layout with shelters, support facilities, walkways/roads, as well as consideration of water and sewer requirements (potable water, toilets, showers, cooking), that is, how would these be handled (e.g. outhouses, porta-johns, wells, elevated tanks, etc.).   The Camp Plan will be judged on thoroughness of planning and compliance with Sphere.  Teams should also include a cost per shelter and a cost estimate to construct the camp.  Assume that the site will be cleared and ready, so no costs for site preparation are required.  The prototypes will be brought to JBU for presentation and testing (earthquake, time to assemble, heat retention, weight, habitability, rain, and wind/water) in April, 2018.


  1. Shelter dimensions must still fit on 16’x20’ shake table with a height of no more than 10 feet to fit in the thermal booth.
  2. Weightings on the scoring matrix have been adjusted based on the changed scenario. Note that there is a maximum shelter weight that will result in disqualification from the competition - this is a change from previous years.

To incorporate shelter considerations during the early stages of a disaster, there will also be an additional and separate Emergency Shelter Event that will be part of the competition but will be scored separately and will have separate awards.  This event will address consideration of the initial phase after a disaster during which shelter is created from whatever materials are available at the disaster site.  This scenario is the same – the initial phases immediately after the earthquake in Nepal. The Emergency Shelter will need to withstand potential aftershocks, winds, and rain. Teams will not need to bring anything for this phase but will each be given a kit at the Competition site with basic materials and tools yet to be determined (e.g. dimension lumber, plastic sheeting, tools, nails, wire, twine, pipe, blocks and/or bricks, tarps, and other materials), some basic standards that must be met (e.g. height, area, wind and water resistance) and will have about 2 hours to construct a usable Emergency Shelter.  These shelters will be tested with wind and water.  Grading will be on ingenuity, habitability, time required to construct, and performance during wind and water tests.  Teams can prepare for this by doing some research beforehand on emergency shelters, but they do not need to bring a design or proto-type.

More detail is provided in the Design Parameters tab on the Competition website.

  1. Cash Awards will be given for:         
    1. Overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for the Transitional Shelter/Camp Plan ($1500, $1000, $500)
    2. Individual Category Winners ($300 each) for Fastest Assembly, Best Wind Resistance, Lightest, Lowest Cost, Best Thermal Retention, and Best Presentation/Report, Best Camp Plan
    3. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place for Best Emergency Shelter ($500, $300, $200)
  2. Interested teams of up to 6 undergraduate students should, by Friday, November 17, 2017 submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) due to JBU using the LOI Tab on the Competition Website. This LOI should provide at least a general idea of the design approach of the team. The LOI/Application form can be found on the Competition Website. 
  3. The desired specifications and scoring matrix are provided on the Competition Website.
  4. Participating teams will be required to register via the Competition Website no later than Friday, January 26, 2018. This will include names of the 6 team members, a coach, and a $250 entry fee.
  5. An initial project report must be submitted to the Competition Judges via the Competition Website no later than Friday, March 30, 2018. The report must include design specifications of their proto-type and explanation of how it meets the design parameters.  Report should include at least the following: (i) review of existing disaster shelter designs currently in use in recent disasters, (ii) explanation of method of design of the proto-type, (iii) validation that the proto-type meets design criteria (include a chart comparing required specifications to achieved specifications), (iv) discussion of how the shelter is culturally appropriate to the given scenario, v) suggested modifications or improvements to the proto-type that may have been discovered during shelter design and construction but too late to incorporate for the competition, vi) photos or drawings of the proto-type, and vii) a draft Camp Plan.
  6. A $1000 stipend will be provided to each team participating in the competition. The stipend will be provided to the team upon arrival at the judging event in April.
  7. The on-site judging event will be during April 19-21 at the Balzer Technology Center on the JBU campus. Specific schedule will be as follows:
Thursday, April 19  
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Coordination meeting with judges and JBU Reps (BTC CM Conf Rm)
8:00 AM – 10:00 PM Competition check-in and delivery of structures to testing area (JBU CM High Bay)
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM All participant meeting to discuss procedures and schedule (BTC 209)
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Lunch (BTC 209)
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM Begin Earthquake and Heat Retention Testing (BTC CM High Bay)
1:00 PM – 6:00 PM Team Presentations (BTC CM Conf Room)
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Dinner with Judges (Simmons Great Hall-B)
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Continue Testing and Team Presentations
Friday, April 20  
7:30 AM – 12:00 PM Earthquake and Heat Retention Testing (BTC CM High Bay)
7:30 AM – 12:00 PM Team Presentations (BTC CM Conf Room)
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Break for Lunch (On Your Own)
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Timed set up by all teams (Lawn/QUAD)
3:30 PM – 7:00 PM Emergency Shelter Construction and testing from SP Kits (BPAC Lawn)
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM  All Participant Cook Out (Lawn/QUAD) 
8:30 PM – 9:30 PM Individual Team Feedback by Judges (Various Rooms in BTC)
9 PM – 7 AM Sat.  Shelters occupied by student judges for Habitability Assessment
Saturday, April 21  
7:00 AM – 10:00 AM Rain and Wind/Water load assessment (Lawn/QUAD - Architectural Testing Inc. wind machine)
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM Judges complete final evaluations and scoring of prototype shelters
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Lunch, awards, closing remarks by SP and JBU (Simmons Great Hall)




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