May 03, 2018 | Matt Kucinski


A team of Calvin engineering students tested their senior project against teams from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, and South Korea.

Calvin College placed second at the 7th Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International, April 19-21, and hosted on John Brown University’s (JBU) Siloam Springs campus. Nine teams from eight universities designed and constructed a rapidly-deployable emergency and disaster shelter, which a panel of judges with expertise in emergency management, engineering, logistics, and manufacturing, evaluated for possible implementation in relief efforts worldwide.

“It was a lot of fun. We got to test our prototype against other schools and other designs, simulate a lot of scenarios, and ultimately we got to see how well our process and ideas came to light in physical form,” said Kyle Sutton, a senior civil-environmental engineering major at Calvin.

Sutton, along with fellow senior civil-environmental engineering majors, Kyra Black, Cameron Carley, and Nate Veldboom, made the 13-hour drive south for the competition. The group, known as Team Dwell, brought with them their handiwork--a project they’ve been working on for their senior design project this year.

The competition scenario they participated in was based on the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 that affected more than a million people in Nepal. The shelters were required to address the local climate in Nepal, as well as their mountainous terrain, by retaining heat and transporting easily as well as by being water resistant, cost effective and culturally appropriate. The shelters were also required to be able to house a family of four.

“This competition gives Samaritan’s Purse access to some of the region’s most innovative engineers, construction management and architects, as students provide practical solutions to real-world problems,” said Mark Terrill, associate professor of construction management at John Brown University, and competition coordinator. “Not only does the competition combine classroom learning and real-world application, but it’s also really fun to watch.”

Each team’s disaster shelter prototypes endured durability testing – including earthquake sustainability, heat retention, overnight habitability, wind turbulence, and water resistance. In addition, teams competed in an emergency shelter construction test, where they were evaluated on their ability to quickly design and construct emergency shelters from given materials.

Teams were scored based on their shelter’s performance in individual events and on their presentations detailing their shelter’s schematics, design, and materials. In addition to Team Dwell’s second place overall finish, they also took top honors in the Best Camp Plan, Best Report/Presentation, and Lightest Shelter categories.

A team from LeTourneau University took first place overall and John Brown University took third place. Other universities who participated this year include: Dordt College, Pittsburg State University, Gyeongsang National University, Murray State University, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Team Dwell

Recent stories