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Students Create a Micro-Shelter as Part of 'Impactathon'

This past October students at Carnegie Mellon University competed in an "impactathon," where students worked together to create some sort of shelter for the homeless that would provide protection from the elements and some heat during the winter.

“There’s a problem where the homeless don’t always come to standard shelter areas," said Jon Cagan, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who spearheaded this project. "So what about bringing the shelters to them?”

Students had five days to come up with a solution. Sixteen teams competed.

The winning entry was a shelter that was essentially a rectangular structure that folded apart and had mylar that would create a tent. Heat could be generated by plugging into a lamppost.

“The goal was to put this into public places and have them available. And during the day to actually have them cover the cost of this it would serve as a billboard. So you could sell ad space during the day and then at night it would fold out and become a shelter,” Cagan said.

There is no plan in place to make this prototype a reality.