Engineering students design tiny homes

Asha Mani, Staff Writer

The sophomore Principles of Engineering class is entering in the Tiny Victories Design Competition sponsored by Mobile Loaves and Fishes for their cornerstone project.

Upon entering high school, each student chooses a pathway to specialize in. Each year builds on the knowledge of the previous year. In 10th grade, all of the pathways complete a cornerstone project in which they use their knowledge of the subject in real-world contexts.

“I think that the biggest thing that students get out of the cornerstone projects is that they’re real-world problems. That’s where there’s a real client, and so I think it’s their first opportunity to be a professional in the world, and know what that feels like,” said Ana Josephson, who teaches both the sophomore engineering class and co-teaches the senior Biomedical Design and Entrepreneurship class.

For the past two years, Josephson’s engineering classes have redesigned vintage trailers for Project Ventura. This year, however, they will be participating in a design competition sponsored by the service organization Mobile Loaves and Fishes called Tiny Victories. The challenge is to design a home for their Community First project which is less than 200 square feet. The winning designs will actually be constructed in the community on the 27-acre lot designed to provide affordable, sustainable housing for the homeless.

Briana Palacios, a student in the class, is looking forward to the new challenge and its real world applications.

“I’m really excited because we’re going to learn something new, that we haven’t seen in past years, and we’re going to be able to apply it in the future, say if we want to design our own house, or something like that,” said Palacios.

Shilah Chhadua, Palacios’ partner for the project, is excited about participating in a real-world competition among professional architects.

“What’s cool is we’re entering into a competition, where there’s going to be people who have majored in this kind of stuff, so it’s a really big competition, and we get to participate in that as young students,” said Chhadua.

Chhadua creates a 3-D model of her design. She, along with her partner Palacios, have already created detailed floor plans which they will eventually merge.

Despite the steep competition, the class remains optimistic about their chances of having a winning design among the five groups in the class.

“Maybe, if we really try!” said Palacios in regard to winning the competition. “We just have to be positive, and know that it’s for a good cause.”

Josephson adds that both the fresh perspective of the students and support of a professional architect reinforce her belief that the students can win the competition.

“I feel like sometimes when you’re designing for the first time, or the first time to do anything, sometimes it turns out to be your best,” said Josephson. “I just feel like there’s a fresh perspective when you’re designing for the first time, so I actually do think that you guys have a good chance of winning. And then we have a really fantastic professional architect on board with us who’s guiding us, and who’s really invested his time and energy into the project.”

Chhadua agrees.“Our class is so creative that I feel that we are going to have a good chance at winning it, and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it.”