APSC 100 Students Work with Community on tiny Emergency House Design

Posted on June 18, 2018


By Matt Mills, FEAS communications staff

One of the greatest advantages to earning an Engineering degree is the ability to find meaningful and practical solutions to real-world problems. It’s about using advanced skills to help improve people’s daily lives. 

Take, for example, the problems that arise when natural or economic disasters conspire to leave people without serviceable homes in which to live. Ensuring access to safe, affordable housing and the infrastructure required to support neighbourhoods are matters of health, safety, and dignity. Engineers can help provide solutions when housing crises arise. 

Part of the training for Queen’s Engineering students in the first-year APSC100 design course is to partner with people in industry and the local community to propose solutions to real-world problems. For many of the approximately 800 first-year students, this exercise marks their first real forays into characterizing a set of problems, analyzing various solutions, choosing the approach that has the best chance of success, and doing it all in consultation with clients, industry partners, or community stakeholders.

One group of students this year – Haley Adams, Luke Steenge, Angela Raponi, Makenzy Arsenault, Tomas Blanchette, and Mitchell Code – worked with officials of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory to develop an emergency housing option that could have valuable applications in the events of housing emergencies in that community.

“We were tasked to come up with a design for a temporary home for use in a housing emergency,” says Blanchette. “Our design needed to be safe, well-rounded, realistic, and practical. This is the first time we’ve done a project like this and it really gave us valuable experience that we’ll all build on and use in our careers.”

"These relationships between students and outside stakeholders help to develop and grow good relations between the Queen’s and the community. It benefits everyone."

-  Steve Blight, APSC 100 instructor

The team came up with a design concept for a trailer-based tiny house that could be easily deployed and could accommodate up to four people for as long as a year. It had to be affordable and durable with provisions for heating and cooling, electricity, household water, and sanitation.

“We picked a trailer home because we needed something we could really transport around the community,” says Blanchette. “We settled on a mini-split heat pump for heating and cooling and added a gray water reuse system to make it efficient and environmentally friendly.”

The teams compared the costs and advantages of at least two other approaches to temporary housing, including traditional construction methods and steel shipping container-based structures, before settling on the final design.

“It’s much more satisfying for students to be working on real projects,” says APSC100 course instructor, Steve Blight. “When they’re expected to deliver on something that could be of real value to real clients and partners, it’s great motivation for students. Clients sometimes get valuable solutions or brand new approaches they haven’t thought about. Also, these relationships between students and outside stakeholders help to develop and grow good relations between the Queen’s and the community. It benefits everyone.” 

 

Tiny House

FIRST CLIENTS: Haley Adams, Luke Steenge, Angela Raponi, Makenzy Arsenault, Tomas Blanchette, and Mitchell Code partnered with officials of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on a tiny house design for use in the event of a housing emergency.

 

Tiny House 2

COMFORTS OF HOME: The trailer-based tiny home provides for kitchen, bathroom, sleeping, storage, and living space for four people for up to a year.

 

water

EFFICIENT CHOICES: The proposed tiny home design includes a system to re-use grey water from sinks and showers for flushing toilets, thereby reducing water usage.