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September 8, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

IDEAS Academy Engineering and the Portable Shelter Project

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What began as a student project last winter with the design of a “tiny home” has grown into a completed portable shelter project that will impact the life of a homeless veteran.

The Foundations of Architectural Design class began a tiny home initiative in the winter of 2016. The students led this project from ideation and development to implementation. Interestingly, the initial project didn’t include the construction of the shelter. But the students weren’t happy with the idea of simply designing the home; they wanted to build it. After all, they would be building their design not interpreting someone else’s blueprints.

As the project took shape, it became the Portable Shelter Project. Students decided the final project should benefit a homeless veteran. A partnership with Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin meant the 128 square-foot portable shelter could go to the James A. Peterson Veterans Village in Racine, WI.

The construction phase of the project took place throughout the summer at the Habitat for Humanity Lakeside lot. Having a safe and secure location for construction was critical. A group of about twenty students worked on the portable shelter with eight to ten students volunteering on any given day. They worked an average of three to four hours a day, four days a week.

Despite the challenges presented by heat, finding a location, and juggling logistics throughout the summer, everyone involved says the experience was very positive. High points of the project include the community’s willingness to contribute, the democratic process of the students, and the positive attitude of people who appreciated the contribution being made by the students.  This was true service learning for our students. They were able to learn critical architectural, engineering, and construction skills while giving back to someone who gave so much to our country!

This work could not have been done without the leadership of Tim Pasche. Mr. Pasche teaches the Foundations of Architectural Design. He volunteered his time and worked with the students to recruit partners and complete the project during the summer. He has also been a part of transforming the school’s engineering program. Students can take an engineering course each year from 6th through 12th grade.

The IDEAS students will attend Maker Faire Milwaukee on September 24th and 25th at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. They will showcase the Portable Shelter Project.

It is important to thank many organizations that provided financial and materials support. Sponsors and partners include The Étude Group’s Expanding Horizons Program; Habitat for Humanity Lakeside; Abacus Architects; The Home Depot Foundation; Alberici Constructors; Alliant Energy; Plymouth Foam; Quasius Construction; Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin; Town of Sheboygan Lions Club; Schroeder Brothers Home Improvements; City of Sheboygan; Anderson Trailer LLC; and The Sign Shop of Sheboygan.

Concert goers and sponsors of The Étude Sessions also supported with the purchase of their tickets. The Étude Sessions is the concert series that supports the schools and programs of The Étude Group.

Read more about the Portable Shelter’s transfer to Veteran’s Outreach of Wisconsin and ribbon cutting ceremony in an article featured in the Shebogan Press.

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