InTents June/July 2020 - 33

lobal economic losses
from natural disasters
topped $232 billion last
year, rounding out a
decade that cost the
world nearly $3 trillion, according to the
2019 Weather, Climate & Catastrophe
Insight Annual Report published by global
professional services ϐirm Aon. With both
the report and the United States Geological
Survey noting that increasing global
surface temperatures will contribute to
stronger and more frequent disasters,
there will be no shortage of opportunities
to serve those affected by these events.
John Brown University in Siloam
Springs, Ark., connects students to these
opportunities through its disaster shelter
competition. Typically sponsored by a
relief organization, the competition is open
to students across the nation studying
engineering, construction management or
architecture, or participating in science or
technical programs.
Teams of no more than six participants
design and build a prototype of a disaster
response shelter for rapid deployment
and setup that aid organizations

could use when responding to crises.
Scenarios change every year and are
based on recent real-world events,
from earthquakes and hurricanes to
refugees ϐleeing conϐlict. Following
Sphere standards, a set of humanitarian
standards that help ensure consistency
among relief responders, teams must
consider elements including wind, rain,
privacy, security, culture, cost, ease and
time to assemble, and ventilation.
"The ϐirst year of the competition
we asked for 'the perfect shelter' but
quickly realized that different events
require different characteristics," says
Mark Terrill, competition coordinator
and assistant professor of construction
management at John Brown. "These have
been in differing climates with differing
cultures and needs, and this is really what
makes the competition useful; students
have to ϐirst assess the needs, then
design and build to the requirement."

PUTTING IT TO THE TEST
Three weeks before the competition,
teams submit a report detailing their
project and its effectiveness. Ranging in

Using fiber-reinforced
vinyl, LeTourneau
University engineering
students won the 2018
contest centered on a 7.8
magnitude earthquake
in Nepal. All photos
courtesy of David Dittenber,
LeTourneau University.

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