P16485: Biochar Concrete Roofing Sheets for Nicaragua

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

During this phase, our team has done considerable project planning. We have set personal milestones, assessed risks and concerns, created a backwards plan and brainstormed some goals and key deliverables. We have drafted a Problem Statement and identified key stakeholders for this project. From this point, we conducted a customer interview in order to determine the customer and engineering requirements which the design of this project will be centered around. A House of Quality diagram was created to determine which engineering requirements satisfy which customer requirements. We also planned to accomplish some preliminary research on Biochar and roofing techniques, which will continue into the next phase of our Senior Design.

Project Summary

The roofs on houses built in Nicaragua create too much noise in the rain, create too much solar heat gain and are too expensive. Our team is working towards designing a new roof that would solve many of the problems inherent with metal roofing and utilize local waste products.

1-Page Project Summary Document

Use Cases

Constructing the Roof


Project Goals and Key Deliverables

  1. Improve the living conditions for Nicaraguans
  2. Make use of local waste products
  3. Research and test Biochar as a new building material


  1. Working Roof Prototype
  2. Test Documentation
  3. Molds for Manufacturing
  4. Material Mix (Biochar/Concrete)
  5. Instructions for Installation
  6. Schematics/Design Models

Customer Requirements (Needs)

The following list of customer requirements were determined after talking to the customers and to our guide. Customer Requirements Document

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)


Create a contract between the engineer and the customer where indisputable satisfaction of the engineering requirements equates to customer satisfaction. Engineering Requirements Document
Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

Inputs and Source

  1. Customer Interview
  2. Research
  3. Benchmarking
  4. Template and Example
  5. Guide & other stakeholders

Outputs and Destination

  1. House of Quality
  2. Engineering Requirements
  3. Customer Requirements
  4. 1 Page Summary
  5. Use Case Senario


Cost - this is one of our biggest constraints because it is one of the most important customer requirements. The new roofs must be cheaper than the current ones

Limited electricity - the roof must be able to be constructed using limited electricity because that is all that is available at the building sites

Must attach to post and beam construction - this is the structure of the houses that the roofs will be installed onto

Must be constructed and installed locally - this is a factor that is very important to the customer and will help keep the costs down

Must be transportable - the roofs must be light enough and small enough to be transported to the houses using what labor and vehicles are available.

Must consider earthquakes and hurricanes in the design - both could potentially occur in Nicaragua and must be taken into consideration when building the roofs

Use Biochar - one of the main constraints in the project is the use of biochar is highly encouraged.

Safety of Installation - it is important that the process for installing the roof is safe for all of the workers.

House of Quality

The following is the completed House of Quality for the project. This was used to determine which engineering requirements satisfy which customer requirements. It was also used to determine which trade-offs may need to be made during the design phase. House of Quality Document

House of Quality

House of Quality

Design Review Materials

Design Review 1 Powerpoint

Comments from Phase I Review

Plans for next phase

Team Plan

As a team, our goals for the next phase are concept generation, concept selection, functionality analysis and feasibility analysis. Since much of our project planning work has been complete in this phase, much of our time in this next phase will be dedicated to the product and eventual prototype.

Individual Plans

Three-Week Plan (Adrian) Document

Three-Week Plan (Cindy) Document

Three-Week Plan (Peter) Document

Three-Week Plan (Jamiya) Document

Team Shared Vision for Phase II

Team shared vision for phase II document

Home | Planning & Execution | Imagine RIT

Problem Definition | Systems Design | Subsystem Design | Preliminary Detailed Design | Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep | Subsystem Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo | Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation