NC State
CNR Enrichment Fund

Sustainable Materials and Technology major Max Craft traveled to Ecuador to learn about the sustainability of bamboo, and its strengths as a building material. He was able to apply what he learned in the classroom by building a shelter that members of the community are able to utilize.

When I was given the opportunity to go to Ecuador and work with the sustainability of bamboo, I was thrilled. I always remembered that in SMT 202 we talked about bamboo, and I was fascinated. When I heard about this trip, my fascination for bamboo made me apply! While there we were able to do many great things for the community and learn many new ideas. This trip is absolutely perfect for a Sustainable Materials and Technology student at NC State.

We had three lectures from an Ecuadorian professor named Dr. Robinson. He was an Architecture professor with a focus on bamboo.  His bamboo houses are world-renowned, and he is a highly intelligent man. While sitting in his lectures, I constantly continued to feel as if I was in a Sustainable Materials and Technology class at NC State.Although bamboo is not mentioned much in our lectures here at NC State, the words Dr. Robinson was using to teach were. We learned about the compression and tension strength of bamboo, as well was ways to properly harvest it. Dr. Robinson emphasized how sustainable bamboo is, how it has the potential to be the next major building material, and that if it is, the world will become a much more sustainable place. One statistic that really stuck with me is that a house built of a bamboo requires half of the amount of CO2 to be released that a typical home being built today does. There is no telling how much bamboo really could turn this world around.

Dr. Robinson also talked about his many research projects dealing with bamboo. One that was really interesting to me was where he used bamboo to build and insulate a shack. The purpose of this project was to show that bamboo can work as a building material, and be resilient in any climate. He did so by building this shack in Antarctica, and having him and his colleagues live in it for two weeks. The shack is still there to this day, where it can be seen and examined by anyone passing through. I knew that bamboo was an amazing resource, but when he told us about this, I was truly amazed. The fiber and stalk can all be used in so many different ways.

Dr. Robinson consistently talked about the thing that angers him the most, which was the fact that they have so much research and proof that bamboo works that it should be obvious to the whole world that we need to be using it abundantly. This statement really stuck with me, because I feel the same way about sustainability. In the eyes of so many, including mine, sustainability is such an obvious answer. Yet still to this day, it is not prioritized as it needs to be. Dr. Robinson feels the same way with bamboo. It can be used to build structures meant to last hundreds of years,  make insulation that can survive Antarctica’s temperatures, and be used in textiles to make a softer version of anything that cotton can make. The uses of bamboo are endless, and Dr. Robinson made sure he stressed that to us.

 

To read more about Max’s experience in Ecuador, read his blog “Bamboo Cutting Skill and Uses in Ecuador.”