Engineering students build eco-friendly doghouses for furry friends

Tien Nguyen

This year’s Sustainable Dog House Challenge was an un-fur-gettable experience, with dogs from the Austin Animal Center paying a visit. 

The event, hosted earlier this month by the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering department, is a competition for students to build eco-friendly dog houses. 

The competition first began as an idea from Richard Corsi, a former chair of the department, who loves dogs and wanted to promote sustainable design in a fun and interactive way, said event organizer Sangeetha Kumar.

“It’s a really great opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to do something more hands-on, learn what it is to be sustainable and win prize money for it,” said Kumar, a civil engineering graduate student.

Competitors were split into two divisions based on their year, and both divisions awarded first- and second-place prizes of $1000 and $500.

The hope is that students can apply concepts of building and designing sustainably to their future careers, said event organizer Hagen Fritz, a civil engineering graduate student.

Civil engineering junior Andrea Flores, who was part of the “UT Pawstin” team that won first place in the upper division, said the challenge was a great opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to a real-life situation.

Flores said her team designed the dog house to be partially underground to use the earth as insulation. The dog house also used a pumping system to water grass on the roof and keep the house cool.


“I have a pitbull of my own, and I wanted to use this project to implement my interest in green building techniques while also learning about how to make an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable home for my dog,” Flores said.

Civil engineering sophomore Matthew Luong participated in the competition last year and won first place in the lower division. This year, Luong said his team, “The Leashing Agent,” spent only $5 on their dog house. The rest of the materials were recycled, he said.

“If anyone is thinking about doing this competition, I would definitely recommend it,” Luong said. “It teaches you about the building process as well as the importance of sustainability and reusing material.”

This year, students had the option of donating their finished doghouses to the Austin Animal Center.

“Being able to provide a really nice house for them and do it for free is really heartwarming,” Luong said.