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UP students design typhoon-proof ‘bahay kubo’

By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:51:00 10/10/2010

Filed Under: Innovation (invention), Housing (New Products), House building

MANILA, Philippines?A typhoon-resistant ?bahay kubo??

A group of senior engineering students of the University of the Philippines Diliman has designed a nipa hut that promises to withstand typhoons and earthquakes, thanks to its octagonal design anchored on a central pole.

Called Kawayanihan, a mash-up of ?kawayan,? or bamboo, and ?bayanihan,? the Filipino tradition of helping out, the two-story, 25.5-square-meter house could provide poor families affordable quality housing.

This and other innovative ideas were showcased at the Engineering Marketing Congress (EMC), an annual event where undergraduates pitch research projects as viable commercial products in the form of a competition.

Started in 2005, EMC aims to hone the students? skills in translating their ideas into prototypes. It also teaches them how to effectively market these ideas.

?Our engineers are usually faulted for their poor oral skills. In the job market, they top the written exams, but many of them don?t get the position because they fail the interview,? Dr. Aura Matias, dean of the College of Engineering, told the Inquirer.

Create excitement

?You have to create something exciting. Students want to be challenged. So EMC was conceived,? she said.

Matias said she hopes the event would develop the country?s future ?technopreneurs.?

?Students propose a research project for a commercial product and prepare a marketing presentation,? she said.

This year, some 13 student groups from different engineering departments?industrial, electrical, chemical and civil engineering?participated in training and marketing seminars before showcasing their ideas at the college lobby.

Three winners will be announced at the end of the event. The top prize is P30,000.

Sense of responsibility

Pat Jacinto, whose group came up with the typhoon-resistant bahay kubo, said each Kawayanihan house would cost P50,000 and could accommodate a family of six.

Jacinto, an industrial engineering student, said prototypes of the bamboo houses would be built on a 197-hectare property in Famy, Laguna.

The group of Duane Galang, meanwhile, created a biomass fertilizer touted to be more effective and cheaper than commercial fertilizers. A 50-kilo sack would cost P495.75, half the price of chemical fertilizers.

Galang, a chemical engineering student, also shared with the Inquirer valuable lessons he learned from the EMC. ?It instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility. As engineers, we don?t just do computations, we?re in a position to impact the Philippines and the whole world. When we step out of college, we can take positions in the corporate world or government and really do something about the issues.?

Bricks from garbage

Another group devised a mass production system for ReBricks, which are recycled bricks made from garbage. The idea was originally developed by a community in Barangay Bagong Buhay in Quezon City.

Industrial engineering student Angelo Domingo said their system introduced a more efficient way to melt and mold plastic trash with less emissions.

ReBricks are sturdier and, at least, P1 cheaper than commercial bricks that sell for P11.10 apiece.

?It has great potential, we studied the process and how it can be efficiently done. We got a partnership with the Quezon City government to produce 26 million bricks a year,? Domingo said.

The bricks would be used to re-pave some 500 kilometers of sidewalks around Quezon City in the next three years, he said.

?After three years, we will open ourselves to the market, to real estate developers,? Domingo said.

The exhibit of student projects ended last Wednesday. As of press time, EMC winners have yet to be announced.

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