Engineering Students Build Prototype for $300 House Project

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Read the full story by Anna Fiorentino, published by Thayer School of Engineering.

Students in Associate Professor of Engineering Vicki May’s “Structural Analysis” class have designed and built components for a prototype that could influence The $300 House project designs for the neediest families displaced by the 2010 earthquake in Fond des Blancs, Haiti. A construction team will be led by Thayer School of Engineering lecturer Jack Wilson and Geisel School of Medicine Professor Peter Wright in collaboration with the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation.

$300 House

Components of the Thayer students’ design include a bamboo roof and frame. (Courtesy of Thayer School of Engineering)

“We are also in the process of establishing a partnership with FOKAL, a Haitian non-profit organization establishing the first university-level Environmental Education Program in Haiti,” says Wilson, who recently returned from Haiti after beginning construction on two prototype houses designed by faculty, students, and others both in Haiti and at the 2012 Prototype Design Workshop. “FOKAL is interested in working with us on establishing a design and research laboratory as part of their program that would also be focused on innovation and sustainability in construction materials and practices.”

Thayer School has been working with Dartmouth’s Studio Art Department, Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck School of Business and Center for Health Care Delivery Science on the $300 House Project since the concept originated in a 2010 Harvard Business Review blog by Vijay Govindarajan, the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business at the Tuck School, and Marketing Consultant Christian Sarkar.

May’s class was able to complete a bamboo roof, a bamboo awning, an inexpensive solar panel that provides lighting, and a rain collection and filtering system for clean water. They built walls with a compressed earth block machine that they also constructed.