Students construct alternative shelters

for Pakistani earthquake victims as part of final project

By: Kristi Spurgeon

Students in the Walla Walla College School of Engineering have been researching alternative options for semi-permanent shelters for those in the Pakistan region destroyed by an earthquake on Oct. 8.

The earthquake, which killed more than 80,000 people, also left an estimated 3.5 million survivors homeless. Thousands of those are still without any type of shelter. Although tents are being shipped in to help house the victims, even winterized tents may not adequately protect families from the brutal Himalayan winter.

Research on the alternative shelters was conducted by 75 students, with final presentations held this week. One prototype had been monitoring the temperature that could be maintained through body heat inside the structure without any source of heat other than the sun. Results from probes monitoring external and internal temperatures show that although it was freezing outside, inside the shelter remained about 75 degrees when the sun was shining.

The project was sparked by the request of an engineer in the country of Estonia and has been directed by engineering professors Marlene Baerg and Don Riley.

Although it may be too late to directly affect the homeless in Pakistan this winter, the results may have an effect on future disaster situations.

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