Photo: Competition Rules

Competition Rules

2018 Competition

Samaritan’s Purse and John Brown University will sponsor a national competition to design and build a prototype of a disaster response shelter (Transitional Shelter) for rapid deployment and set-up, to be used by aid organizations responding to natural or man-made disasters. The Competition Scenario for 2018 is a combination Shelter Design and Basic Temporary Camp Plan to respond to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015. This scenario was selected to allow teams to focus on a specific disaster type and location as well as cultural considerations. There is also an additional event to construct an Emergency Shelter on the spot using material kits provided at the Competition site.




Engineering, Construction Management, Architecture, and students from science or technical programs in CCCU schools and other schools across the US are invited. Interested teams are invited to submit a Letter of Intent no later than November 17, 2017, providing information about their team, capabilities and potential design concept. Teams will be asked to register no later than Jan 26, 2018, with an entry fee of $250. Team size will be up to 6 undergraduate students plus one coach. This coach can be a faculty member or industry rep associated with the university entering the competition. Teams are encouraged to solicit a local sponsoring organization to help defray the costs of travel and building materials used in the prototype shelter that will be brought to the competition. A stipend of $1,000 will be provided to participating teams upon completion of testing at the on-site event in April, 2018.

Judging and Testing

Judges will include Reps from Samaritan’s Purse, experts from various disaster response organizations, local engineers, and selected Engineering and CM Professors (current and emeritus) from CCCU or regional schools, and other technical professionals. If available, additional judges will include a logistics expert familiar with storage and transportation and a manufacturing expert to judge the ease and cost of manufacture. A scoring matrix is provided for use by the teams as they develop their project. Judge expertise will include:

  • Emergency Management Expertise (Samaritan’s Purse and others)
  • Technical/Engineering Expertise (University reps and other professional engineers and architects)
  • Possibly Logistics Expertise/Manufacturing Expertise

Testing to validate the performance of the units will include the following:

  • To validate assembly criteria, competing teams will be required to assemble the unit on site.
  • Shelters will be weighed at the testing site. Shelters weighing over 10% more than the design weight (200 kg) will be disqualified.
  • To validate physical performance against wind, the shelters will be subject to a wind generating apparatus (“the Wolf”) that will simulate high wind and rain.
  • Seismic load will be simulated using a shake table. The platform of the shake table will be constructed of wood. Therefore, teams should ensure that their shelter has a mechanism for fastening to the wood platform. Judges will decide the orientation of the shelter on the shake table.
  • Heat retention capabilities of the shelters will be evaluated by enclosing the shelters in a temperature controlled environment, cooling the surrounding air to 40 degrees F, then heating the closed shelter to 80 to 100 degrees F and recording the temperature decrease over a 30 minute period. The test apparatus can be observed on the videos on the competition website.
  • To validate physical performance against moderate to heavy rainfall (4 inches per hour or 2.5 gal/SF/hr), the shelters will be subject to a rain simulating apparatus for approximately 12 minutes.
  • For livability, the shelters will be occupied overnight by a disaster “victim” during the competition. These will be students who volunteer to help evaluate the performance of the shelters.
  • Cost of the shelter should be validated. That is, the cost to manufacture the shelters in mass, not necessarily the cost to build the prototype. Costs must be include material and labor costs, and should be validated with receipts, pricing sheets, or some form of documentation. Donated materials should be costed out.
  • To expose students to the initial phase of disaster response, each team will be given a materials kit with basic materials (e.g. tarps, wood, pipe, block, etc.) and will be required to construct a livable emergency shelter in an allotted time. These make-shift shelters will be tested against wind and water.

More comprehensive wind and seismic load testing will be done on the winning shelter(s) if the sponsor considers the prototype(s) advanced enough for further development.

Awards will be given for the top 3 Disaster Shelter Proto-types. Additionally, awards were be given for the following categories: Highest Wind Load, Best Heat Retention, Lightest Shelter, Fastest Assembly, Lowest Cost, Best Camp Plan, and Best Report/Presentation. Finally, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place awards will be given         

Download the Competition Rules

Download the Scoring Matrix   


Shake Table Heat Retention Booth
                            Shake Table                           Heat Retention Booth
Wind Machine  
  "The Wolf" courtesy of Architectural testing Inc.  


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