In order to tackle the growing problem of homelessness in Southern California, a team of teenage girls has come up with an ingenious idea: a portable, solar-powered, tent. Though the 12 students involved in the project had no formal engineering training, they taught themselves the basics in order to plan, print, and assemble the innovative homeless shelter.
The ambitious undertaking was initially inspired by the girls’ desire to give to the homeless. With little money to spare, however, they needed to get creative in order to come up with an alternative. At first, they brainstormed water purification techniques, but ultimately decided to address the lack of shelter and privacy that homeless individuals struggle with on a daily basis. So, after a year of teaching themselves skill-sets ranging from coding and 3-D printing to sewing and soldering, they completed the prototype for their product.
So, what makes this tent so special? In addition to its ability to be neatly folded into a rolling backpack, the shelter is equipped with lights, a pair of USB ports, and one micro-USB port powered by solar energy. They hope that these state-of-the-art features improve the lives of the homeless individuals that they increasingly encounter every day. “Because we live here, we see it growing constantly,” Maggie Mejia, a member of the team, explains.
Recently, the group of girls presented the product at a young inventors’ conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Having previously been recruited by DIY Girls, a non-profit organization aiming to “increase girls’ interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships,” they have gained a substantial platform for their project. They hope that this attention culminates in an increased awareness of homelessness and the mass production of their life-changing creation.
To find out more about this project, check out #wegetitdone, an Instagram hashtag used by the aspiring engineers to document their work and inspire other girls to create.