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Serving through Building: Sustainable Houses for the Gnobe People in Cieneguita, Panama

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Construction Division Technical Session 3: Case Studies

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lauren W. Redden Auburn University

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Lauren Redden holds a Masters degree in Building Construction from Auburn University. Her industry experience includes working in Pre-Construction Services as an Estimator, and working in various positions in Operations including Project Management and Quality Control/Assurance. She is currently a Tenure Track Assistant Professor with the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University. Her research interests center around construction education, mobile technologies, service learning, hands-on engaged learning, and historically significant construction events throughout the world. She has published in several conferences proceedings. Contact Information: 118 M. Miller Gorrie Center, Auburn, AL 36849, USA. Phone: 334.844.5341. Email:

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April E. Simons P.E. Auburn University

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April E. Simons joined the faculty in the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University in August of 2016. Prior to that, she worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over 5 years where she served as project engineer on 16 different construction projects. Mrs. Simons earned a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree in 2009 and a Master of Civil Engineering degree in 2013, each from Auburn University. Ms. Simons has been a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Alabama since 2014.

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Scott William Kramer Auburn University

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Scott W. Kramer, Ph.D. is a Professor in the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction at Auburn University. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Auburn University and Ph.D. in Learning Design & Technology from Purdue University. Since 1993, he has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in scheduling, project management, and information technology. His research and consulting work involves international construction and designing study abroad classes for university students. His project management experience includes 9 years of professional practice working for two Engineering News Record (ENR) top 50 commercial builders. Kramer co-authored the research article, Teaching Project Management Through an Information Technology-Based Method, which was named the 1997 Paper of The Year by the PMI Project Management Journal. Kramer has also received several national teaching awards including the Associated Schools of Construction National Teaching Award (1996) and the Outstanding Educator Award (2003). In 2013, Kramer received the McWhorter School of Building Science Faculty Excellence Award for Leadership in Study Abroad classes.

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Trenton Huffines

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This research involves creating and testing a standard “kit design” containing framing materials and instructions necessary to build sustainable houses for the indigenous Gnobe people of Panama. In previous research, ***** University Master of Building Construction students initially developed a tube steel framed sustainable house design for the Gnobe people. The structure utilized steel tube framing supported by shallow concrete footings, a concrete slab, a pitched metal roof, and the flexibility to choose various wall materials. This initial design was constructed in Cieneguita, Panama in May 2017 by a collaborative service team of missionaries and students enrolled in a service learning course at ****** *******. Following the construction of the initial steel frame design in Panama, a succeeding *** student refined the construction details of the aforementioned tube steel house and developed a “kit design” for ease and expediency of construction. A prototype of this refined structure design was assembled at a location near ******, *******. Construction of the prototype allowed to learn lessons on constructability, explore environmental barriers, and finalize the list of components and instructions for the kit. The completed structure also provided hands-on training for *** Construction Management students and mission teams who will later construct these houses in Panama. Students in future service learning classes in **’s program will implement the sustainable housing kits in Panama with the help of local mission teams. Several churches hope to build 50 houses over the next five years for the Gnobe people by implementing these economical and sustainable kits. In addition to these advantages provided by these housing kits, they also provide higher quality compared to current building practices in this region of the jungle. By repeating the same basic construction assembly, the students, mission teams, and Gnobe people will gain efficiency in construction, providing the people of Panama with more housing compared with other means of construction.

Redden, L. W., & Simons, A. E., & Kramer, S. W., & Huffines, T. (2018, June), Serving through Building: Sustainable Houses for the Gnobe People in Cieneguita, Panama Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30958

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015