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09 Sep

WSU Students to Design Peru Police Station and Women’s Center

Corruption halted the construction of a police station near Chiclayo, Peru, siphoning off funding before it could be finished.

But Weber State University students will get the job done, and while they’re at it, they’re going to build a women’s center.

But first, they have to survive the design charrette.

The charrette is a 48-hour challenge, in which teams are asked to come up with innovative solutions to design problems.

To make it more challenging, most details are kept secret. For now, students only know that they’re designing a women’s center and police station.

“On Thursday night (Sept. 10) we will give them a packet of information,” Jeremy Farner, assistant professor of design engineering technology at WSU said.

That packet will include the sizes of the buildings and how they’re to be used, a list of available materials and photos of the sites.

“It’s a pretty intense 48 hours, to go through the design process and come up with an idea, and then come up with a poster and short video,” Farner said.

The poster and video presentations are due at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, when judges will study them and select the winning designs.

Awards will be presented during a public open house, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, in the ballroom of building D3 on the Davis campus at 2750 University Park Blvd., in Layton. Scholarships for members of the winning teams are provided by Big D Construction and Hughes General Contractors.

“They’ll be responsible for the detailed cost estimate and also for the schedule — that’s the expertise our students bring,” Chris Soelberg, associate professor of construction management, said. He added that his students will also be valuable team members in terms of assessing constructibility of plans, methods and materials. “It’ll give them the opportunity to work in a group setting, and learn about synergy and how that works.”

The design charrette has changed over the years. The initial competition had students designing temporary housing for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The following year, they were judged on their ideas for redesigning the lobby of Ogden’s historic Ben Lomond Suites hotel, and last year they created plans for a cultural center for the Timbisha Shoshone tribe in California’s Death Valley National Park.

“The first year it was very conceptual in nature,” Farner said, explaining that the students didn’t have funding to actually build housing in Haiti.

The designs for the Ben Lomond Suites were also more concept than reality and while the Timbisha Shoshone tribe’s cultural center is in the works, tribe members decided to first build a hotel first so visitors have a place to stay.

The women’s center and police station will be built in Peru in 2016. Thirty students are expected to work on the police station and women’s center.

“Students are already slated to go build them in May, so whatever comes of this competition will actually be constructed by students and faculty members,” Farner said.

Weber State University’s Center for Community Engaged Learning sends students to Peru every other year to work with students from Juan Mejia Baca University in Chiclayo.

“We have a joint partnership with the university there. They find the projects for us, and then we work together with their students to actually coordinate it and make it become a reality,” Farner said.

“We offer a class in spring semester for students interested in going, to be part of the fundraising process to purchase the materials they’re going to need, as well as to prepare themselves to execute the projects when they get there,” said Farner. “It’s about a three-week trip, and they’re going to need all three weeks to finish the projects we’re attempting to do.”

Most construction management students take evening classes and work during the day, but Soelberg hopes a few will be able to participate in the trip to Peru.

“Procuring the materials and meeting schedules in a different culture is always a challenge,” he said.

Whether his students can go or not, he’s glad they were invited to compete in the design charrette.

“We’re just excited to be part of it, and excited for the humanitarian aspect of it,” he said.

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