P17485: Lightweight Concrete Roofing Tiles

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Project Background

The 4-Walls project raises money and provides volunteers to help build permanent homes for the less fortunate in El Sauce, Nicaragua. These homes require various materials such as bricks, mortar, wood and steel supports and roofs. The current roofs are zinc coated roofing sheets that need to be imported and shipped hundreds a miles to finish these houses. These roofs are most costly piece of the home, create lots of noise during rain and trap heat inside the house on hot days. We have partnered with the Ithaka Institute and 4-Walls to develop a cheaper alternative made of local materials.

Project Summary

The current zinc coated roofs used cost too much, hold too much heat and produce too much noise during rain. Last year’s design proposed a two-piece concrete shingle design that proved the feasibility of using local materials for a roof design. Our goal is to improve our design to a single shingle design that consistently sheds water, which operates at a cooler interior temperature and reduces noise. We aim to optimize the biochar concrete mix and create a standardized process to begin manufacturing. The stretch goal of this project would to develop a business model that can be operated in El Sauce, Nicaragua to promote a local economy.

1- Page Project Summary Document


Stakeholder Position
Bonnie Yannie 4Walls Representative, Customer
Kathleen Draper Ithaka Institute Representative
Sarah Brownell Faculty Champion
Nicaraguan Natives End Customers

Use Cases

Main Use Case

Main Use Case

Other possible Use Cases

Project Goals and Key Deliverables



Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

Here is the link to the full Customer Requirements Document.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

Here is the link to the full Engineering Requirements Document.



Hard limit to cost for raw materials to manufacturing tools to installation.

Limited resources

What materials go into the tiles and supports for the roof are limited to the local Nicaragua area. Not only this, but tools used to manufacture and install the roof is limited.


The manufacturing and construction of the tiles and roof must be “universal” enough for a young teen in the family to be able to assist.

Existing Structures

Roof design must attach to existing houses and newly built houses.

Transportation feasibility

Tiles must be light and durable enough to be moved from mold location to houses. Tiles must be light enough for families to carry and assemble on the roofs.


Extreme heat, rain and wind must be accounted for, along with local animals including insects and snakes.

Use Local Materials

The use of biochar is highly encouraged.


The manufacturing of tiles, installation and use must be safe for local families without labor experience.

House of Quality

House of Quality

House of Quality

Here is the link to the full House of Quality Document.




Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis

Design Review Materials

Problem Definition Presentation presented on 13th September 2016.

Plans for next phase

Team Project Plan

Team Project Plan

Individual Project Plans

Rory's Three Week Plan

Luqman's Three Week Plan

Carmen's Three Week Plan

Mary's Three Week Plan

Jenn's Three Week Plan

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