Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SD Mines Team Designing Tiny Houses to Tackle Homelessness

Team members starting in the back row are as follows: Angel Nunez freshman math/mechanical engineering, Jamie Caffee senior mechanical engineering, Brandon Braveheart sophomore civil engineering, Hannah Moen sophomore metallurgical engineering.  Front row, Cheyanne Herbert senior mechanical/sustainable engineering, Devin Mollers freshman civil engineering, Kristen Haller sophomore mechanical engineering/pre-medicine, Ronald Kitoy junior civil engineering.



RAPID CITY, SD (April 12, 2017) – A team of students with the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program is taking on the design of tiny houses that can meet the needs of a segment of Rapid City’s homeless population.

The Tiny House Team has partnered with the Western South Dakota Community Action Agency, a nonprofit organization, to identify the critical design elements needed to make a tiny house work for homeless individuals in Rapid City. Team members are also working closely with local agencies and community organizations that serve this population to understand needed design elements like accessibility, security, safety and ease of access for emergency responders.

Team members credit the tiny house idea to the late Linda Edel. “It was her goal that no one in Rapid City would ever freeze to death during the winter,” said team member Hannah Moen, a sophomore in metallurgical engineering.  Edel passed away last year. Team member Jamie Caffee, a senior in mechanical engineering, points out that “much of our inspiration and excitement for this project comes from her passion. She is the person that really started this whole thing.” 

The multidisciplinary Tiny House Team also includes Cheyanne Herbert, senior mechanical engineering, Brandon Brave Heart, junior civil engineering, Kristen Haller, sophomore mechanical engineering, Ronald Kitoy, sophomore civil engineering, Devin Mollers, freshman civil engineering and Angel Nunez, freshman double-majoring in both mechanical engineering and applied and computational mathematics.

Vaughn Vargas is a Mines graduate, and one advisor to the project. “One of the most important aspects of design is understanding the clients,” said Vargas. “For this project to be successful, it has to put the needs and desires of those who use these shelters first and foremost.”

Several organizations in town work to help homeless people. Organizations like the Cornerstone Rescue Mission and the Hope Center serve thousands of individuals each year. Members of the Tiny House Team hope their project can be a new tool in the effort to help homeless individuals off the streets and into safe spaces to begin a transition out of poverty.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Charles Michael Ray , 605-394-6082, charles.ray@sdsmt.edu

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