InTents June/July 2020 - 34

While considering climate and mountainous
terrain, the LeTourneau University team had
to solve for heat retention, water repellency
and transportability while honoring culture
and remaining cost-effective.

length from 20 to 70 pages, the reports
help the teams clarify and quantify all of
the work they've completed in the months
leading up to the competition, Terrill says.
Once on-site, they present it to judges,
who incorporate their presentation rating
into a ϐlexible scoring matrix that guides
both students and judges through the
testing process. Judges include experts
from disaster response organizations,
local engineers, and engineering and
construction management professors.
Teams assemble their units on-site,
where they are also required to demonstrate transportability. Shelters should
be able to be mounted onto an existing
foundation, anchored into the ground or
mounted to an elevated platform made of
wood or concrete. Other tests employ the
use of a shake table for seismic load simulations, an industrial fan and pressure
gauges for ventilation measurements,
a thermal booth for insulation requirements, a rain-simulating apparatus, a light
transparency test and a wind-generating
machine nicknamed "the Wolf."
The cost to manufacture their
shelter is another factor students must
consider and validate with receipts or a
similar type of documentation. "You can
develop a great emergency shelter, but
if it costs $10,000 per unit, you haven't

A LESSON IN TEAMWORK

J

ohn Brown University's disaster shelter competition encourages students
to consider three phases of disaster response: emergency, transitional and

permanent. The main focus is transitional shelters, but to expose participants
to the emergency phase, an additional mini competition challenges students to
construct a livable emergency shelter in an allotted time. Each team receives a
materials kit with tools such as tarps, wood, pipe and block to create a makeshift
shelter tested against wind and water. "In a real rapid response scenario, it comes
down to teamwork among people with different backgrounds and technical skills,
so we want them to get a feel for what it's like in the field when you're on short
notice and things don't go according to plan," says Eric Weaver, global shelter
technical advisor for the international relief organization Samaritan's Purse.

34 intents

0620IT_18_35.indd 34

created a probable situation for a
nonproϐit. It's a trade-off we need them
to acknowledge," Terrill says.
The top three prototypes receive awards,
but teams can earn additional recognition
in categories such as fastest assembly, best
wind resistance, best ease of handling, best
ventilation, best presentation/report and
best water/sewage plan.

FIGURING OUT FABRIC
Regardless of the scenario, incorporating
better insulation value into structures
is one of the biggest challenges in not
only the competition but real scenarios
as well, says Eric Weaver, a past
competition judge and global shelter
technical advisor for Samaritan's Purse,
a Boone, N.C.-based relief organization
that sponsored the past three contests.
Along with ventilation and durability,
this is where fabric plays a crucial role.
"Traditional tent fabric types like canvas
are the go-to design, but many relief
organizations are looking into using more
materials with polypropylene to develop
longer-lasting designs," Weaver says.
The winning designs for the 2018
and 2019 competitions, both led by
David Dittenber, chair and associate
professor of civil and environmental
engineering at LeTourneau University
in Longview, Texas, used a ϐiberreinforced vinyl. Even though the
scenarios were different-the 2015
Nepal earthquake, followed by the
2017 hurricane in Barbuda-the
structures were similar, with wood
frames and custom-built metal
end connections.
"The students found the vinyl on their
own and ϐigured out how to fabricate
a custom skirt system to ϐit around the
wood frames," Dittenber says. "They
didn't have a lot of fabric knowledge
or tools to work with, but using a little
bit of cleverness and persistence, they
shaped it to ϐit our structure without

june-july 2020

5/19/20 4:38 PM



InTents June/July 2020

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