Engineering is Converting Buses to Showers for the Homeless

Lava Mae, a non-profit organization, transforms retired public buses into accessible, mobile hygiene units. See how it’s done with the help of structural engineering.

  • What is Structural Engineering? | QUEST

    Why don't buildings fall down on windy days? Using math and physics, structural engineers work to ensure that structures like bridges and rollercoasters are sturdy enough to withstand stress and large amounts of weight. Their job is incredibly importand: the safety of the entire community they work for relies on them. 

    Grades: 6-11
  • Engineering is Converting Buses to Showers for the Homeless

    What happens to retired public transportation buses? In San Francisco, many are being turned into toilets and showers on wheels! Doniece Sandoval, the Founder and CEO of Lava Mae, uses structural engineering to build these mobile hygiene units. Sandoval began the project after discovering that there was only 16 shower stalls accessible to the 3,500 homeless men, women and children in San Francisco. Her mobile shower design became a reality with the help of structural engineers, who figured out how to store, heat, and dispose of water for showers.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Career Spotlight: Civil Engineer

    How do we know that structures we use daily, like bridges, are safe? That's where civil engineers come in. Alishia Ballard graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in civil engineering and has been working with San Francisco Public Works since. There, she does structural engineering, and designs, inspects and analyzes structures like bridges and buildings to make sure that everything is working as they should be and that the community is safe to use them. 

    Grades: 6-12