JBU Places Third at 7th Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition

Samaritan’s Purse and JBU Partner to Find Innovative Disaster Response Shelters

John Brown University’s construction management students placed third at the 7th Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International, April 19-21, and hosted on JBU’s 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.

“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,” Mark Terrill, JBU associate professor of construction management and competition coordinator, said. “Not only does the competition combine classroom learning and real-world application, but it’s also really fun to watch.”

This year’s competition scenario was based on the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 that effected 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.

“Samaritan’s Purse responds to natural disasters and crises around the world, and emergency shelter is often one of the most critical needs that we see,” said Eric Weaver, a shelter technical advisor with Samaritan’s Purse. “By sponsoring this competition with John Brown University, we hope to engage and inspire students that are interested in construction to use their skills in a way that makes a global impact.”

Each team’s disaster shelter prototypes endured durability testing – including earthquake sustainability, heat retention, overnight habitability, wind turbulence and water resistance (new this year). 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. One of the two teams from LeTourneau University (Longview, Texas) finished in first place, and Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan) took second place.  Other universities who participated this year include Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa), Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas), Gyeongsang National University (Jinju, South Korea), Murray State University (Murray, Kentucky) and University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Little Rock, Arkansas).

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief organization that has helped more than 40,000 families in 35 U.S. states following hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and ice storms. Recently, disaster response teams helped more than 4,600 families in Texas and Florida recover from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top-ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2018), JBU enrolls more than 2,500 students from 41 states and 50 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 40 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.