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Heads, Hearts, and Hands at Work in Haiti

Heads, Hearts and Hands at Work in Haiti

In 2011, three civil engineering senior design teams helped Haiti rebuild stronger and more affordable homes following the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Students Jake Echeverria and Chris Sampson, in conjunction with EBNet (Ecological Building Network), researched and tested the use of bamboo poles filled with mortar made from earthquake rubble in braced frame and truss systems, creating a structure sound enough to withstand future earthquakes and hurricanes.

Meanwhile, seniors Maura Cyrus, Nicholas deCesare, and Alvaro Lacayo designed and tested a new concrete block incorporating recycled rubble to create a product that is designed for its intended use as a weather barrier, partition, and form. Tested successfully earlier this year, the team’s blocks will also be put to use for rebuilding by EBNet in conjunction with their fellow Broncos’ bamboo poles.

In building a 500-square-foot model house, the third team—Danielle Locklar, Kelli Oura, and Lauren Reinnoldt—collaborated with a number of construction industry partners. The home was developed and built from modular structural foam and sheet steel panels, making it lightweight but stronger than anything previously used in Haiti. The students also created a kit with color-coded, pre-cut, pre-drilled panels so residents can assemble the home themselves using easy-to-follow instructions.

“It’s gratifying to see our students’ work put to such good use in the world,” said civil engineering chair Mark Aschheim. “With their focus on collaborative, ethical, sustainable building for people in need, these students exemplify the type of ‘engineering with a mission’ we strive for at Santa Clara.”

Read the full story here.

Chris Sampson and Jake Echeverria research bamboo pole construction to help in the reconstruction of Haiti. Photo by Charles Barry.