Student teams take part in College of Technology Haiti Housing Relief Competition

February 16, 2010

Purdue's Building Construction Management Department is holding a College of Technology Haiti Housing Relief Competition. Teams of six students will develop proposals for a design-construction-delivery concept for secure, long-term temporary housing for the millions of Haitians left homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Robert Cox, head and professor of building construction management, developed this competition in response to students' desire to lend a hand to Haiti. Cox seeks to help students focus on the bigger picture while giving them the chance to create a response to this problem of post-disaster housing.

"I see a great potential here for making an impact outside our campus, as well as potential commercialization and economic impact within the state," Cox says.

The competition allows one student on each team to be from outside the College of Technology. The focus remains on technology, but welcoming other disciplines has broadened the competition's potential impact.

More than 100 students from 10 majors, including aviation technology, mechanical engineering and organizational leadership and supervision, are registered to participate on one of 16 teams.

The housing structures proposed by these teams must be able to be constructed or deconstructed in two days, as well as meet the basic needs of a family of four. The floor plans must allow space for living, sleeping, food preparation, and basic sanitation, and require little to no formal training to construct.

The finalists will be announced by March 22. Judges will select the top three proposals. The confirmed judges are Vic Lechtenberg, vice provost for engagement; Doug Taylor, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette; Shelly Wakefield, code enforcement director, Indiana Department of Homeland Security; and Dennis Harney, director of development, Indiana Manufactured Housing Association.  The first and second-place teams will receive a funding allowance to construct a full-scale prototype of their winning concept in Knoy Hall in April.

The College of Technology plans to continue the competition in the years to come, Cox says: "Our hopes are to take our lessons learned and broaden the competition to encourage more participation and eventually make it a campus-wide effort."