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Engineering students change the landscape

This fall, seven Engineering students put themselves on the map—literally—when they completed FLC’s first student-designed and student-constructed building.

The Sustainable House for Engagement & Discovery (SHED) is the culmination of a senior seminar project in the Engineering program. Residing in the campus garden operated by the Environmental Center on the north end of campus, it is designed primarily for maturing compost and storing tools for the student-run garden.

“This was a real project that they took from conception to completion,” says Associate Professor of Physics & Engineering Laurie Williams, the faculty advisor for the seminar. “It really demonstrates what these students are capable of. And I think it's a fabulous structure.”

The seven students set out to design a building that aligned with both the needs and the spirit of the EC, while meeting building codes and matching the campus’s aesthetics.

Then the students actually built the thing.

“I don't think you really know how well you've designed until you try to build what you put on paper,” Williams says. “That's where the real learning happened.”

Funding for the project came from an undergraduate research grant, the La Plata Electric Round Up Foundation, and the College. With an emphasis on alternative building methods, the students constructed the first non-mortared, dry-stack building on campus, which passed every required inspection.

  “That experience is not a classroom exercise that I could have ever pulled off,” Williams says. “And they're all better engineers for it.”

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