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Posted 8/10/2015

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By Jo Anita Miley
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville


While most U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville projects usually take weeks or sometimes even months to complete, some Huntsville Center employees helped demonstrate how a home can be built in a weekend.



Huntsville Center's Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate's professionals were asked to participate in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math event with the Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy and Foundations for Tomorrow for the Tiny Home Build weekend Aug. 8-9, at Sci-Quest in Huntsville, Alabama.



The ISPM Energy Team was the solar lead for the construction event. ISPM STEM professionals Raul Alonso, Dominic Ragucci and Jeffery Watts installed solar panels for a pre-existing tiny home and for the home that was built on site.



The team showed area students and the community how to build and power a tiny home in just two days. Tiny houses are often mobile houses of less than 500 square feet and feature multifunctional living spaces, energy efficiency and use of vertical space. During this free community event, visitors were able to see this transportable tiny home being built from start to finish and learn about what it takes to make the tiny living spaces.



Event organizers said the Corps' contribution was important.



"Huntsville Center's participation was incredibly vital to this project. Their energy expertise is what allowed us to add solar to the tiny home but more importantly that expertise also taught many people in the community about how clean, sustainable energy really works," Daniel Tait, chief executive officer at the Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy said. "The best part is that someone in desperate need of shelter will have a roof over their head and basic electricity."



Corps' STEM professionals said they were thankful for an opportunity to give back to the community.



Jeffery Watts, Chief, Energy Planning Branch in ISPM's Energy Division said he was pleased the team came together to support the effort. This was a great chance for Huntsville Center workers to do something that has an impact on the quality of life for those within the local community. He said he also brought along his wife and three children to help out.



Raul Alonso, program manager, said participating in the outreach event gave him a different perspective on his career.



"I'm an engineer. This was a good opportunity to work alongside my peers and others in an outreach project. Having to perform the work versus hiring a contractor to do the work gives a perspective we cannot get sitting in our cubicle. I recommend doing this type outreach to others," Alonso said. "We're making a difference here."



There were also special educational stations to learn about construction and energy and self-sufficiency as the home was built. When completed, the tiny home was donated to an Alabama homeless citizen showing that a life can be changed in one weekend.



The purpose of the event is to promote STEM career fields and raise awareness on Huntsville Center's mission.