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eCurrents - Designing and Building the Future!

A publication of the Lyles College of Engineering at California State University, Fresno

Student Spotlight — Construction Management Students Help Create Eco-Village

Media credit: Darrell Wong/The Fresno Bee

Construction Management program in the Lyles College of Engineering and Arts & Design program in the College of Arts & Humanities recently teamed with the noted local architect, Art Dyson to design and build emergency housing for the homeless community in the Fresno area. The vision is to create an Eco-Village for the homeless to have a safe and secure environment. In addition, the participants of the Eco-Village would live in a communal environment with gardens for growing vegetable and developing work skills to help them get back into society and prosper.

Invited participants from the homeless community shared their needs for survival with students who developed several conceptual designs of housing and sanitation structures. Sizing of the structures and material types were always the issue. The resulting designs were on the order of 80 to 100 square feet in area, and utilizing recycled and sustainable materials for construction. The material types selected by the students incorporated wood pallets, PVC piping, fabric, straw bales, railroad ties for foundations, and aluminum can lids and cardboard for siding. With a one-time funding award from the Provost, the two programs collaborated throughout the spring semester to create prototype shelters for the proposed Eco-Village community.

As the semester unfolded, the need for interaction of several colleges to complete the Eco-Village community became evident. The concept is not just an engineering and/or design problem. The issues within the homeless community require contributions from colleges involving sociology, anthropology, psychology, business, economics, agricultural sciences, and biology. The course for the Eco-Village project is an experiential learning environment from concept, design, construction, and implementation.

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