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High school students tackle housing solutions for refugees

There are an estimated 60 million refugees around the world, and displacement creates massive needs for things like shelter and social services.

Students at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington have set their minds to helping solve the housing crisis for refugees around the world.


"Currently what the UN provides refugees are very expensive tents, with a life cycle of maybe months," says Mount Pleasant Engineering Teacher Brooks Twilley.


For the same price, he says he and his class can produce a home -- called a WikiHouse -- that has a longer life cycle.  


Here’s how it works -- with a $20,000 machine like a ShopBot -- you can print out all of the wooden parts for a home. The parts are snapped together like Lincoln Logs to make a house.


"You can basically create anything that there’s a file for," says Jake Stelz, an engineering student. He’s talking about a digital file, because WikiHouse is really a big, open source architecture system.  


Mount Pleasant has a Shop-Bot, and Twilley’s class has been building parts of a small-scale model.


The class is the first student led WikiHouse chapter. The WikiHouse Foundation in England has challenged the group to think not only about housing, but entire community solutions.


"One of the offshoots of this projects is going to be developing centers that we can pop up," he says the goal is to create, "sort of a machine to create another machine," and ensure that the housing solution is sustainable.


Now the class is divided into different teams -- like press, fundraising and engineering the house’s heating system.


Right now, the team says it’s struggling with funding.


It’s looking to raise more money for the materials needed to finish their proof of concept by the end of the school year.

The school has a Go Fund Me page here.