Former student obtains funds to develop refugee camp flooring

Sam Brisendine

A former Texas A&M student and a fellow designer raised $50,000 in an online fundraising campaign to continue developing a durable, low-cost flooring system they designed to improve the lives of the millions of refugees who live in camps throughout the globe.

A record high 46.7 million people fleeing conflict and natural disasters are living as refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees.

Many of these people have no choice but to live in temporary camps where tent-like shelters provide little to no barrier between their families and the soil below, said Sam Brisendine, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 2008.

“In these conditions, families are susceptible to parasitic infections, flash flooding, waterborne diseases and hypothermia,” he continued. “These preventable afflictions will claim thousands of lives and impact the well-being of millions.”

To combat this problem, Brisendine and Scott Austin Key, co-founders of Good Works Studio, a product design firm that helps people in need, designed “Emergency Floor,” a raised flooring system of firm, durable, interlocking mats made of recycled plastic that are installed on top of repurposed shipping pallets.

Discarded pallets are plentiful at refugee camps, because they are often left behind after the aid they were shipped with is distributed.

The flooring idea has placed Brisendine and Key into the finals of a competition for a $150,000 USAID grant, which they are planning to use for Emergency Floor manufacturing costs and subsequent tests at refugee camps Nepal and Iraq — but they needed the $50,000 to receive the USAID funding.

Brisendine, an architectural designer at Murphy Mears Architects, co-founded Good Works Studio with Key in May 2013.


posted July 2, 2015