homeless tent
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
October 9, 2020 ·  3 min read

All-girl engineer team invents solar-powered tent for the homeless

Girls have the power to change the world, and these young high school students are proving that. This all-girl engineer team invented a solar-powered tent for the homeless to keep them warmer at night,

All-Girl Engineer Team Invents Solar-Powered Tents for the Homeless

There is no question about it: Homelessness is on the rise. In 2017, a group of female high school students noticed this and knew they wanted to do something to help. Unfortunately, many of them felt powerless with nothing they could offer. (1)

“Because we come from low-income families ourselves, we can’t give them money,” explained high school senior Daniela Orozco. (1)

The girls didn’t want their financial limitations to stop them and knew that there must be another way they can help. Where they couldn’t provide income, perhaps they could provide these members of their community with one of the basic necessities of life: Shelter to sleep at night. (1)

This is what spurred this all-girl engineer team to invent a solar-powered tent that folds up into a rollaway backpack. (1)

Girl Power

The team of 12 girls from San Fernando High School partnered with DIY Girls and worked for a full year developing their tent. DIY Girls is an organization that supports girls in science, technology, engineering, math, and STEM. (2)

The girls had several goals for their tent. These included (2):

  • Easily portable and lightweight
  • LED and UVC lights that disinfect the tent
  • To have it patented
  • To ensure it gets in the hands of the people who need it most

The girls want their tent to help as many people as possible, from the homeless living in San Fernando to refugees displaced from their homes. (2)

Inspire and Empower

Former executive and program director and current board member at DIY Girls Evelyn Gomez couldn’t wait to help out when she heard about the girls’ project. She was a San Fernando graduate herself and went on to study engineering at MIT and UCLA. Gomez understands first-hand how important it is to support girls and Hispanic students in this field. (2)

“I know in my own education, through undergraduate and graduate school, I was often the only Hispanic person in the room,” Gomez explains. “I think it really places a big burden on your shoulders: I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my people, I’m representing my community, and if I say something that maybe … doesn’t make sense, then that’s going to reflect poorly on them. That’s the beauty of having an all-girl team and having the beauty of working within our own community: We have no one else to turn to for answers. We need to come up with the answers ourselves. It’s very empowering.” (2)

Most of the girls didn’t know each other at the start of the project. Now they have become great friends who will hopefully go on to support each other in their post-secondary endeavors. (2) Though they relied largely on Gomez in the beginning, they very quickly gained confidence and independence to do things on their own. If they didn’t know something, they looked to Google and YouTube to help them figure it out. (1)

Hard Work Pays Off

The girls worked six days a week on the project, including over winter and spring break. They had to put their tent through rigorous stress and quality control tests, which their first prototype failed and they had to start all over again. (1)

The hope is that eventually, this tent could be mass-produced so that it can help as many people as possible. (1)

This all-girls team is proof that, with support and mentorship, girls and women can do anything they set their minds to.