News & Features

2nd Annual Sustainable Dog House Challenge

chloe art web

Jan. 4, 2017

The Challenge

  • Design & construct a sustainable, healthy, & resilient dog house for a 20-40 lb. dog
  • Practicing engineers will judge the dog houses on
    April 25, 2018 at Dog House Showing & Defense
  • Win prizes!

Rules & Information

  • Maximum of (5) CAEE members per team
  • To register your team, email Carol Perales by April 13
    Include the following information in your email:
    - team name (be innovative!)
    - name, classification and email address of each team member
    - after each team member name indicate LD for lower division or UD for upper division
  • Dog house should ONLY be built out of recyclable materials. Get creative!
    - Teams should not buy new materials for this project and will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Criteria & Point Distribution

  • Sustainable (30 pts)
    Dog house includes sustainable features (as explained by team in writing - see below - and orally to judges)
  • Resilient (15 pts)
    Withstand a “reasonable” structural load (tree limb test) & water spray challenge for moisture intrusion
  • Healthy (15 pts)
    As scored by indoor air quality test for formaldehyde & VOCs + potential for fungal growth
  • Comfortable (15 pts)
    As scored by interior air temperature measurements when exposed to afternoon sun
  • Attractive (10 pts)
    Aesthetic appearance of dog house as determined by judges
  • Effectively Communicated (15 pts)
    Teams will explain their dog house design & its important features in 5 minutes or less to judges
  • Innovation Bonus (5 pts)
    Up to 5 bonus points may be added by judges for innovative features


  • Dog house (April 25)
  • Brief discussion with judges on your dog house features/construction 
    - One-page write-up (11 pt font w/1 inch margins) describing sustainable features of dog house (due April 23 - two days before judging event)
    - 3-5 minute presentation to judges day of event (at least one team member must be present)


  • Top Dog 1st Place - Lower Division ($1000)
  • Top Dog 2nd Place - Lower Division ($500)
  • Top Dog 1st Place - *Upper Division ($1000)
  • Top Dog 2nd Place - *Upper Division ($500)
  • People's Choice Award (popular vote) - all teams eligible ($500)

*To compete in the Upper Division category, two or more of the team members must have upper division classification.

 Questions?  Please contact Carol Perales or Dr. Corsi


Criteria for Construction/Storage


  • General questions? Please contact Phil Tomlin
  • Doghouses and building materials may be stored in the EER starting Mon. March 26th and in ECJ starting Tues. April 17th. A room will soon be designated in the EER with ease of access to the basement of ECJ.

  • Houses are not required to be built on campus. However, they must be set up and ready for display on April 25th.
  • ECJ Woodshop: 
Located in the basement of ECJ, contact Phil Tomlin for training on equipment.
  • Longhorn Maker Studio:
 Stop by any time and talk with student staff about what’s available and the ways to become qualified to use equipment. This is an opportunity to add those additional features to your doghouse that might make your team the top dogs! Please contact Scott Evans.
  • Reminder: Doghouses should be built out of recycled materials (see resource list on back). Get Creative! Teams should not buy new materials for this project and will not be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Send us pics of your team at work and we’ll post to @UT_CAEE Twitter and Instagram!

Clean Up:

  • Doghouses must be removed from the premises after the conclusion of the competition on April 25th, unless special arrangements have been made with the Technical Staff.
  • Prize winning houses may be selected for display on the second floor of ECJ.
  • We encourage participants to donate or recycle their dog house. Houses for donation will be specially marked during the event. Attendees are welcome to speak with builders at the event to discuss the possibility of donation. We are also working with several dog rescue and other canine organizations about adoption of some dog houses!

Recyclable Building Material Resources*:

Recycling Center (Contact Joe directly, mention UT-doghouse challenge)

Austin Resource Recovery (recycle & reuse drop off center):

Smiley’s Recycling & Resale (Contact directly, mention UT-doghouse challenge)

Travis County Water Control & Improvement:

Daisy Works (Dirt/mulch/Loam available)

Goodwill Drop Off Centers

Habitat for Humanity

*Teams are not limited to these resources. Friends, family, retail stores and curbside bulk pickup may also offer potential building materials.