The Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Team, like the rest of the world, came back from Spring Break to a less clear future. As everyone is trying to navigate moving work, school, and life online, the team along with Rural Studio and Auburn University faculty are making a plan for the possibility of not returning to campus until Fall 2020 or beyond.

A beautiful Newbern sky from the front porch of the Red Barn before Spring Break

Before Spring Break, the team along with the rest of the 5th-year class at Rural Studio underwent a “Pre-Stress Test.” These presentations by each team update Auburn University faculty members including Margaret Fletcher, Rusty Smith, Christian Dagg, and Justin Miller, on the status of each of the thesis projects. The faculty then advise the teams on how to best proceed in order to be approved for building in the summer. The TMBVRP team received feedback on how to better communicate the scientific concepts on which their research is based. They were also encouraged to not rush their research in order to build bigger. After Pre-Stress Test the students left Hale County for Spring Break. Now they are back, figuring out how to research, design, and build from home.

Fortunately, there are circumstances that are encouraging for continuing the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Research Project at home. First, teammates 3/4 teammates were on spring break together and already live together. This means no social distancing is needed between 3/4 of the team. Second, the Concrete Chimney Experiment resides in the carport theses student’s home (from now on referred to as HomeLab). Third, Rural Studio was able to bring a tool trailer to the HomeLab with contactless delivery. So now, the TMBVRP team can continue their rigorous testing and experiment calibration from the comforts of a 110-year-old house in Greensboro, AL. You’ve gotta love scientific research Rural Studio style.

After two weeks of self-isolation, the fourth teammate will be able to join the team at the HomeLab where they can continue analyzing data and manipulating the Concrete Chimney Experiment. Their plans for the Summer are to insert airflow sensors into the chimney in order to properly resize the ventilation openings and to get a Wood Chimney Experiment up and running. The TMBVRP team is thankful for all the support from Auburn University, Rural Studio, and their partners at McGill University. Their goal is to keep pushing their experiment while staying safe and sheltering at home. To the amazing Rural Studio students moving on in this difficult time, the team wants to thank you for an incredible year together and for setting a wonderful example of how to work hard with bold hearts.