A First Year Engineering Affordable Housing Project

By Marjan Eggermont, Madiha Khurshid, Sarah Lockwood and Daryl Caswell.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper seeks to contribute to the practice and application of urban research as it applies to homelessness through the creation of educational curriculum that can both increase awareness of the problem in the student community and allow that community to have a real and beneficial impact on developing solutions to homelessness. The focus of the article is the design and delivery of an affordable housing project as part of the first year engineering design curriculum for seven hundred and fifty entry-level engineering students for the 2008/2009 academic year. The goals of the project were threefold: to make students aware of our city’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness, to introduce a workshop on the root causes of homelessness, and to design sustainable, inclusive, affordable housing. The work represents the combined efforts of a second year biomedical engineering student, engineering instructors, homelessness agencies and members of the community. The project involved a hands-on design challenge for all first-year engineering students to address the issue of affordable housing. Twenty four teams of 28 students (over 700 students in total) took six weeks to design affordable housing that had the following requirements: modular, structurally sound, sustainable, cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, functional, meet client needs, and have community input. The 28-member student teams were subdivided into 4-person groups. Each group covered one of the following aspects: project management, urban planning, sustainability, interior design, building, costing, and architecture. The end result, in addition to a considerable improvement of the social awareness of the students, was a public showing of models, prototypes, and proofs of concept for a wide range of solutions for affordable housing. Several of the concepts were taken away by members of the audience (city planners, social agencies, etc) for further consideration.

Keywords: Engineering Design, Affordable Housing, Homelessness, Prototyping, Teamwork

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.419-440. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.154MB).

Marjan Eggermont

Senior Instructor, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Marjan Eggermont is a senior instructor in The Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, teaching in the area of engineering design. She used to teach in the Fine Arts department in the areas of drawing, art fundamentals, and printmaking. Marjan has degrees in Military History (BA) and Fine Arts (BFA, MFA) and studied briefly at The Royal College of Art (UK). As an artist she has been in numerous art exhibitions nationally and internationally. She was recently (2004) one of the recipients of The Allan Blizzard Award, a national teaching award for collaborative projects that improve student learning. She recently appeared in "Printmaking at The Edge" as one of 45 international print artists. Marjan is represented by the Herringer Kiss gallery in Calgary and the Elissa Cristall gallery in Vancouver.

Madiha Khurshid

Student, University of Calgary, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Sarah Lockwood

Instructor, Schulich School of Engineering, Calgary, Canada

Dr. Daryl Caswell

Senior Instructor, Schulich School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Daryl Caswell is a professional engineer, a professional musician and a senior instructor in engineering. The first year engineering design and communication course he developed at the University of Calgary has won a number of national and international awards and is the subject of a teaching guide for creative problem solving. His main academic interest is in multi-disciplinary problem solving and inquiry-based teaching and learning. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Caswell is the principal horn of the Red Deer Symphony and runs a design and manufacturing company specializing in tools for the music industry. He has designed scraping knives for oboists, sound reflectors for orchestras, bell plates for percussionists and mutes for french hornists.


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