Annex A - Group Research Proposal

Group Project Proposal (Engineering)


Names: Robin Vinod Verghese, Putrevu Mihir Niyogi, Tan Kailun

Class: S2-07

Group Reference: A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H  / J /  K  / L /  M  

A.    Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[  X  ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
          e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

B.    Type & Category

Type of research: _______6________  (Write down one number from 1 to 6)

Category  –  __________13___________ (Write down one number from 7 to 20)

Sub-category –  ______c____________ (Write down the sub-heading alphabet)  

Application of project relevant to SST Community, Society or the World:

     Due to Global warming, the sea level is rising constantly. Many countries around the world are in risk of being submerged. Cities like Bangkok, Thailand are in great danger of sinking. Even the great New York City is in danger. Our innovative house design allows houses near coasts to float and protect themselves against the increasingly common flash floods.

C.    Write down your research title:

Development of a structure to protect homes from rising sea levels.

D.   (a) Problem being addressed

Many of the coastal cities are in danger of being submerged. In New York City, USA by the mid-2020s, sea level rise around Manhattan and Long Island could be up to 10in, assuming the rapid melting of polar ice sheets continues. By 2050, sea-rise could reach 2.5ft and more than 4.5ft by 2080 under the same conditions. In such a scenario, many of the tunnels - subway, highway, and rail. Some transport systems could be out of operation for up to a month. [The Guardian, 2011]  Cities like London, Mumbai and San Francisco are also bound to be affected

Even though there are many floating houses on the  market. Many of the houses are still expensive, hard to maintain and not customisable. For example, in Netherlands, there are many homes for sale along the coastline that has the ability to float.  At a starting price of 260,000 euros (£180,000 or $310,000), the houses are not a cheap option, but demand is high. [Floating Eco-Homes In The Netherlands, 2007] The houses use new technologies like steel reinforced concrete that do not rust. These are hard to replace if damaged, thus increasing the overall cost of maintaining the house
Our aim is to make a house that is cheap, customisable to a person’s need and meets our criteria (shown below)  at protecting the house.  

Some of the needs of the house include:

1. Make the house rise up with the rising water
2. Prevent the water from going inside the house
3. Protect the house from small debris.
4. Make the house rise itself at the speed of water level rise to protect it from water damage and flooding. For example, a usual flood rises at 3.6km/h [Is flow velocity a significant parameter in flood damage modelling?, 2009]  We aim to make our house match this rate of rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2007 that sea levels would rise between seven and 23 inches (18 and 59 centimeters) this century, but a rate of ice-melt in the Arctic that is much faster than anticipated has prompted many scientists to raise the projection to about one meter, more than three feet. Among those most threatened are the Marshall Islands, halfway between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. The highest point on the 29 atolls and five islands is 33 feet (10 meters) above sea level. The capital, Majuro, is just three feet above sea level and was inundated by high tides four years ago.  [CNN, 2012]
Thus our house addresses the global problem of rising sea level causing floods.

(b) Goals

Making an efficient mechanism to protect homes from floods and rising sea levels by rising up the house in accordance to the water level. It must meet the specific requirements show in 1.3. It must be able to rise up within the 3.6km/h rate of rise a Level 5 flood occurs at. It should be able to protect itself from small debris like rocks or branches that get swept away in a flood. It also should be made of cheap materials that can be easily obtained like PVC pipes or foam.

(c) Specify Requirements

1. Make the house rise up with the rising water
2. Prevent the water from going inside the house
3. Protect the house from small debris.
4. Make the house rise itself at the speed of water level rise to protect it from water damage and flooding. For example, a usual flood rises at 3.6km/h [Is flow velocity a significant parameter in flood damage modelling?, 2009]  We aim to make our house match this rate of rise.

(d) 3 possible Solutions

Design 1


  1. High Stability
  2. Low cost
  3. High reliability


  1. Vulnerability to debris

Design 2


  1. Reduces movement of the house (objects in the house do not fall)


  1. High Cost
  2. Low reliability
  3. Unfeasible in real life
  4. Centre of gravity of building restricts design

Design 3


  1. Multiple houses can be chained together


  1. Low structural integrity
  2. Poor view / looks bad
  3. Low speed of rise
  4. Vulnerability to debris

(e) Choice and rationale for choice

Suggested factors for consideration:
Critical Thinking question
Is the weight suitable?
Is the size suitable?
Cost to produce
Do you have the financial support to produce it?
Is the solution simple, clever, or ingenious?
Is the solution sturdy, resilient, and unlikely to fail?
Is the solution tasteful and pleasing to look at?
Do you have or can you get the materials you need?
Do have time to make the solution and debug it?
Skill Required
Do you have the skills to make the solution?
Is the solution safe to build, use, store, and dispose of?
Ease of use
Is the device easy to use?
Environmental Impact
Does the device in anyway, have a negative impact on the environment?
Table 1: The ranking of the decision matrix

Best solution and rationale

Decision making grid

Solution 1
Solution 2
Solution 3
(What we think is most important)
Normalised value
Votes (0 to 3)
Normalised votes
Votes (0 to 5)
Normalised votes
Votes (0 to 5)
Normalised votes
Environmental impact:
Total points



Table 2: The decision making matrix for the 3 most important factors.

From the decision matrix, we have chosen the 3 most important factors by voting. They are, safety, environmental impact and time. We choose safety as it is an important factors in building a structure. If it is not safe, the structure may cause harm to people using the structure. Next is the environmental impact. We are building a platform which is to overcome floods. We are trying to create something which is able to impact the environment, so it is also very important. Lastly we choose time over aesthetics, because we felt that time is more important even though they have the same normalised values. If the structure can be done quickly, people will be able to start using it faster.
After the votes, we have choose structure 1 as our best structure. It has the highest normalised values out of the 3 of them.

E.    Method – Description in detail of method or procedures (The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.)

(a) Equipment list:

  • Arduino Uno (x1)
  • Jumper wires (x100)
  • LED light (x1)
  • Light Dependant Resistor (x1)
  • 30 cm (Width) by 55cm (Length) by 150 cm (Height) fish tank (x1) [Anything bigger can be used too]
  • 8 feet of PVC pipe
  • 28cm by 53cm styrofoam block about 5 to 6 cm thick (x1)
  • Breadboard (x1)
  • 9 gram Servos (x4)
  • Ice cream sticks (x120)
  • Hot Glue (Glue gun)
  • Swiss Knife
  • Food Colouring (optional)
  • Rubber Tube to siphon water out (can be any dimension)

(b) Diagrams

(c) Procedures for building: Detail all procedures for construction of prototype

  1. Use a penknife or a styrofoam cutter to cut out a 28cm by 53cm styrofoam block about 5 to 6 cm thick

  1. Cut 4 square holes out in the styrofoam block ( 9cm by 6cm )

  1. Build a house and glue  it on the centre of the styrofoam

You can use lego or any other waterproof material to build the house. It should be 15cm by 15cm

4. Build a servo system using an arduino which can power servos on the styrofoam to drop weights

Final Setup of the arduino:

  1. Write code for the Arduino

  1. Create poles to allow platform to rise

(d) Procedures for testing: Detail all procedures for testing of prototype

  1. Place the house in the tank
  2. Plug the arduino to the computer for power
  3. Pump water into the tank with a pump with water going in at a constant rate
  4. Time how long it takes for the house to fully rise up

(e) Risk, Assessment and Management: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.

The hot glue may burn us or start a fire.
Make sure that there are no flammable materials near the heating apparatus and be careful not to burn ourselves
As the experiments involve heating, there is a risk of scalding the hand accidently.
Handle the equipment with care, use hand protection to prevent burns
As the experiment involves glassware, there is a risk of breakage and cutting of the hands.
We will handle the glassware with care. On the condition that the glass breaks, we will use a broom to clear the broken pieces immediately. We will use tweezers to clear the small pieces of glass.
The styrofoam cutter we are using may accidentally burnt our hands if we touch it.
Off the cutter when not in use and keep it away when doing experiments without it
Table 3: Risk Assessment and Management table

(f) Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer engineering goals

2.5 Data Analysis

We collected our data by measuring the height of the house in relation to the bottom of the fish tank. We had also used a timer to measure the time. We recorded the height of the house from the bottom of the fish tank at intervals of 30s.


What data we got from the testing:

  1. The rate of rise of the house (which can be compared to real life)
  2. The rate of water entering the tank (which can be compared to the real rates of flood water in real life)

F. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major sources (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order for each type of source.

(a) Books

(b) Journals
Sturgis, S. D.. (1957). Floods. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,309, 15–22. Retrieved 18 January 2016 from

(c) Websites (May 12, 2015). How to Build a Floating Home. Retrieved from

What is a Flood?  - (n.d.) - Retrieved 14 January 2016 from

What are the consequences of floods? - (n.d.) - Retrieved 14 January 2016 from

Link to our Literature Review: