ESW’s Penn State University (PSU) chapter has been working for months on Apparatus X, a multi-purpose living space they hope will make a huge impact in disaster-stricken ideas. The idea sprang from an architect student at PSU after he visited New Orleans to do research on architecture in slum areas. He set out to design a disaster relief vehicle that would provide medium and long term shelter to those in need.
The Apparatus X Project is currently in the final stages of its design phases, and project members are hoping to finish the construction phase by the end of the 2015 academic school year. The design is based off of an old stripped-down RV – the disaster relief vehicle will be 24 feet long, with seven solar panels and a solar heater on the roof. It will be an adaptable tool trailer, a mobile design studio, and a micro living unit.
Creating a living space from bare bones is expensive - the total project budget is about $25,000. Some of this funding came from corporate sponsors, including IBM’s Students for a Smarter Planet (one of ESW-National’s partners!). Initially, the project team struggling with fundraising using more traditional methods, so they turned to crowdfunding. After opening an account on Indiegogo, the donations came pouring in – over $17,000 of the Apparatus X budget came from individual donors in 16 states and 3 countries. The project was also featured on MSNBC and in multiple magazines (including Wired).
It has not always been an easy ride for Apparatus X. It took the project team about two months to get approval from PSU to build the unit on campus. This project also requires a lot of dedication from the students working to complete it, which can be a struggle for students who are working on ESW projects as an extracurricular. ESW-PSU solved this problem by creating a 4-credit class to work on Apparatus X, alleviating some of the time constraints. Since Apparatus X was the vision of one student, the project team had to have constant communication with him to make sure they were aligned with his plan. This was sometimes a struggle – many new ideas were being thrown around. Despite all these difficulties, the project team hopes to complete the project by May 2015.
Once the students complete construction on Apparatus X, they plan to take it to New Orleans. While some may think New Orleans has been completely restored since Hurricane Katrina, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The goal of Apparatus X is to help rebuild the community in the area that is still damaged, and the project team is proud of the work they’ve done to achieve this goal, from understanding the realistic problem of post-disaster housing, designing a creative solution, and beginning to implement the product where it is needed most.