Coilolo River Pedestrian Bridge; 3D-Printed Houses as Disaster Relief in the United States

Foley, Katherine, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Gomez, Jose, EN-CEE, University of Virginia

There are similar but inexactly the same problems addressed by my Capstone project and research paper. The Capstone project seeks to aid the communities of Coilolo and Tipa Tipa in rural Bolivia by providing a footbridge for when the river to the markets, schools, and town is impassable due to flooding. The Capstone team has worked with Engineers in Action (EIA) throughout the semester to develop a customized design, construction documents, and construction schedule for the footbridge. The research paper pursued the viability of 3D-printed concrete homes as a means of disaster relief in the United States. The common ground amongst the two is the desire to design infrastructure to aid communities after natural disasters strike. It is crucial to consider the human and social dimensions of this technology because the technology is meant to serve society, communities, and their people in a time of need. If the human and social dimensions are not considered, the technology will not be effective in addressing its users, rendering the development of the technology to have been in vain. For the case of 3D-printed houses, the future inhabitants, the designers, the builders, and the organized responsible for funds must be considered. The research question is analyzed using Bruno Latour’s (1992) Actor-Network Theory. The principal definitions of action, delegation, prescription, and discrimination are characterized in the realms of 3D-printed homes and the actors involved. There is a “web of relations” amongst the technology and its actors. The research was conducted at the hands of a collection of methods. The first method was historical analysis of current United States disaster relief efforts through FEMA administered housing assistance. Second was a case study that focused on cost, time, and efficiency comparison between the mechanisms deployed following Hurricane Harvey and 3D-printed concrete homes as temporary housing. Last was a case study on Habitat for Humanity’s successful completion of a 3D-printed concrete home as an indicator for the viability and success of 3D concrete printing for disaster relief. Through my research, I have found that 3D-printed houses are a viable mechanism for disaster relief in the United States. These results are due to cost, time, efficiency, and sustainability factors, which point towards 3D-printed concrete homes as more successful in each category when compared to traditional methods while also pulling from past disaster and the lessons learned. Both the Capstone project and research paper aim to provide necessary infrastructure during or following natural disasters, the first through a footbridge and the latter through 3D-printed concrete homes.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor-Network Theory, Disaster Relief, 3D-Printing

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Technical Advisor: Jose Gomez
STS Advisor: Rider Foley
Technical Team Members: Sarah Besecky, Glenn Broderick, Gabriella Ford, John Hamby, Tim Maxwell, Terence Moriarty, Wyatt Yoder

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