Large-scale natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes happen in very geographically diverse regions, but they all have one thing in common: They leave people displaced from homes.

For the fifth year, a team of students in the PSU School of Construction and a team from PSU’s sister university in South Korea worked for a semester to research, design, and construct a possible solution. They then competed with their design against other university teams from across the country in the 2018 John Brown University Disaster Shelter Design Competition in cooperation with the humanitarian group, Samaritan’s Purse.

The challenge: to design a shelter of 150 square feet for a family of four in response to a disaster in Nepal that can be assembled in the field with minimal simple tools and weigh no more than 440 pounds.

“What students are doing has real-world application, from concept to actual fabrication,” said Instructor Norman Philipp. “And, several of our graduates who were on past teams have been recruited for jobs with relief organizations.”

Senior Spencer Troutman said the experience gave him insight into the design-build aspect.

“I get to see everything from the concept to the final design to the actual construction build and learn how to make modifications and do problem solving along the way,” he said.

Caitlin Crooks said it will help her in her future career.

“I’ve always wanted to join a company that helps people, maybe the Peace Corps or something like that, and this is setting me up to be able to do that,” she said.

This year, PSU finished third in the on-site emergency build and won the heat retention category.