Tiny House Builders Think Big
Senior engineering major William Fan and five classmates took on the tiny house project as an assignment for the two-course Interdisciplinary Design Projects series after Fan met with Jay Shafer, a leading tiny house advocate and proprietor of Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. Fan had submitted the tiny house project idea for the class, and when the course ended, the team decided to continue the construction, improving on Tumbleweed’s model with their own design by combining sustainability and comfort.
“I had no idea what a tiny house was. I thought it was a joke,” said manufacturing and design engineering major Kaycee Overcash, one of three original class members on the project’s current eight-person leadership team. “Now I could see living in a tiny house. I’ve really learned to see space as a resource.”
The plans for the single-person dwelling, nicknamed “the Casita,” include high-tech solar panels to capture and store electricity and a system to filter and store rainwater for daily use. Last fall the team, with support from staff of the Segal Design Institute, developed the layout and design plans, outlining the details for everything from the composting toilet to the small wood-burning stove.
The project has received grant support from the Segal Design Institute’s Don Norman Fund for Design and the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge.