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While packing for the Peru trip I found myself asking what will I use and what type of situations will I encounter. I know there will be a language barrier, cultural differences, and many other obstacles to overcome.  So how do you prepare for lifeís unknowns?

My family has always stressed that the best way to prepare yourself is with a high-quality education. Some say just to go with the flow. Others will tell you to do what you love and the rest will follow. 

I graduated last Saturday from Umass Lowell with a bachelorís degree in Mechanical Engineering. As a Mechanical Engineering undergrad I also had the opportunity to work on the redesign of the Passive Solar House in Peru along with Richard Kee and Maia Benavente.

I have always enjoyed community service projects and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in a service learning capstone project that coincided with my adventurist interests.  I canít wait to get to Peru and put to use our research and the knowledge that I have accumulated over the last few years at Umass Lowell to assist developing areas in obtaining some of the necessities that many Americans take for granted. 

First Timer

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I have never been on a plane, never been outside the country, never blogged and this two week long trip is sure to bring many more first time experiences for me. I am anxious to begin this journey and would like to thank all the people who make it possible year after year and Professor Duffy for inviting me to come with this group. As we are now just one day away from departure I am not nervous rather anxious to put my recently acquired degree in Mechanical Engineering to good use. I am also looking forward to experiencing different cultures and meeting new people, although I realize that my Spanish is lacking and the language barrier may be difficult at times I feel that the trip will be a truly rewarding experience.

During my Undergraduate studies at UMASS Lowell I worked alongside Kevin Duncan and Graduate student Maia Benavente in performing a structural and thermal analysis of the first generation passive solar adobe house. Goals for the trip are to obtain feedback on the first generation house from the locals and figure out if their are changes or improvements they would like to see made. At our University we did research on varying the composition of the building material and how it affected the structural and thermal properties. The equipment we used is vastly different then how locals test the adobe bricks, therefore it is important to work with locals and learn how they make it, how they determine when its ready for use and how they determine if its strong/safe enough for construction. Combining the knowledge we obtained through our research and the knowledge of the local builders we would like to propose a new composition for the bricks of roughly 30% straw by volume for a secondary wall layer which would improve the thermal efficiency of the passive solar house. We hope to begin construction on the second generation passive solar adobe house as well.

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