MSA engineering student, Brian Karch, built six luxury dog houses to provide shelter to outdoor dogs in the Charlottesville area. He collaborated with classmates to construct the shelters for the local non-profit, HOWS Project.
Created in 2008 by Stacey Norris, HOWS has provided over 600 houses for local dogs in need of shelter in the Charlottesville area. HOWS stands for Houses of Wood & Straw, and the HOWS Project is a community service project which exists to construct wooden dog houses and deliver them along with bales of straw bedding to dogs in need of more appropriate outdoor shelter.
MSA’s Engineering Department Chair, Ryan Henry, met Stacey Norris at the hardware store this fall. When he learned about her work, he knew that it would be something that his students would want to assist.
“Every dog should have a warm indoors place to live. But that's an ideal situation. Oftentimes pet owners simply can't keep their dogs inside. Sometimes they just aren't aware that dogs get cold, too. Other times they don't have the means to provide these essential living conditions to their four-legged furry family members. That's where the HOWS Project comes in. And as part of the community, our MSA students have volunteered to help build dog houses for the HOWS Project and ultimately for needy families in central Virginia,” remarked Mr. Henry.
Thanks to the work of the MSA Engineering class, six dogs will have a warmer and drier holiday season.
This project gets to the heart of MSA’s service program as well as the heart of what it means to be an engineer.
“Engineers should constantly be asking themselves...is what I'm working on right now going to make people's (or animal's) lives better? Because at the heart of it, that's what engineering is all about. It doesn't have to be complicated math or advanced science (although it can be),” commented Mr. Henry.
In this case, Brian and his classmates used their engineering and carpentry skills to build shelters that are substantial enough to protect dogs from the summer heat as well as the winter cold, winds, rains, snow, and ice.
The HOWS Project states on its website: “Dogs are social creatures that long to be near their guardian, with their "pack," seeking only the basics - love, attention, and protection. Unfortunately, too many dogs find themselves outside alone, at the end of a chain or in a tiny pen, and without appropriate shelter.”
Brian and his classmates are working hard to serve these dogs and have already begun construction on six more houses. With HOWS, they have identified how they can shine as concerned leaders and devoted team players through civic-minded programs built on cornerstones of Honor and Service.
“Inspired by their hearts, engineers and MSA students use their minds to work with their hands to make people's (or animal's) lives better and ultimately make the world a better place to live” concluded Mr. Henry.