UA Little Rock students’ shelter design holds up to heat, air

University of Arkansas at Little Rock students from the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering spent the weekend competing in John Brown University’s annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition.

The teams’ goal was to build a shelter that could be used in response to natural disasters. This year’s challenge was to create a shelter prototype strong enough to withstand a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

The UA Little Rock designed and built a “Trojan Dome.” Assistant Professor David Manry coached the team, and Joe Lansden, vice president for construction services for Baldwin & Shell, coached and provided support.

All the shelters had be at least 140 square feet in size, weigh 440 pounds or less, sustain up to 50-mph wind, be assembled in less than two hours, and cost less than $1,500. There were no requirements on building materials.

The prototypes were then tested for durability, sustainability, heat retention, overnight habitability, wind turbulence, and water resistance.

“The shelter performed well especially considering this was the first attempt for all of our team members,” said Dr. Hollis (Hank) Bray, professor and coordinator of the Construction Management Program. “The UA Little Rock shelter had a very good performance in the heat retention test, coming in second, and met the wind requirements to resist a 50 mph wind for five minutes.”

After passing the wind test, the team asked the testing company to increase the wind load to failure. The Trojan Dome held its own to 110 mph winds. See the cool video of the shelter going airborne here.

The earthquake test video is here.

The event is sponsored annually by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.

The photo above right shows UA Little Rock team members Alex Cohen, Miguel Valderrama, Dylan Ortman, Meridith Williams, Vianca Martin, Daniel Earls, Weston Jones, and team coach David Manry.


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