Meet a Designing Team!
Jessie Hester-Mautner Braverman and Shawna Hammon won the first-place award in the Humanities and Design category in this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium. Their winning poster is entitled A Look at Prototypical Architectural Design and Its Potential Uses as Shelter.
Originally from Washington, DC, Braverman attended the College of William and Mary for her undergraduate studies. She earned a bachelor's degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Art. Currently, she is completing her Master's in Architecture at NC State and will graduate in May.
Braverman says that she had an interest in architecture and construction even as a child. And while in high school and at William and Mary, she found architecture and architectural design classes that sharpened her childhood interests. After earning her bachelor's, Braverman worked as an assistant interior designer at a furniture store. She says it was then that she decided to pursue a graduate degree in architecture. Her choice of NC State was easy -- her mother's family is from North Carolina, so Braverman spent a lot of time visiting Raleigh when she was growing up. And the architecture program was a good fit with her interests and career goals.
Born and raised near Syracuse, NY, Hammon began her undergraduate studies in architecture at State University of New York at Buffalo. However, she completed her undergraduate degree at NC State Art Applications: Visual Arts through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Since she has been in North Carolina for over eight years and is also an NC State alum, picking NC State for her graduate degree ". . . just made sense, plus they have a great Architecture school." Hammon is working on her Master's of Architecture and will graduate in December after completing a study abroad in Genoa, Italy, this fall.
Hammon says that the most fulfilling part of her graduate studies is that, ". . . to a certain extent, I get to design my own path. We have a variety of studios and seminars to choose from so, in many ways, we get to focus on subjects that interest us." She and Braverman also enjoy various student organizations outside the classroom, where they are honing their leadership and social skills for their future careers. Hammon is the Chapter Graduate President for the American Institute of Architecture Students at NC State, and is involved in the Architecture Graduate Student Association and the Young Architect's Forum Mentor Group. Braverman is also a member of the American Institute of Architecture Students, Architecture Graduate Student Association, and the Young Architect's Forum Mentor Group.
Hammon's early interest in architecture and construction was very similar to Braverman's -- Lincoln Logs and Legos were their favorite childhood toys! And like Braverman, she began taking drafting classes while still in high school. But Hammon says that there was ". . . a moment in life where I questioned whether it was the right path for me and then I started working at a firm and concluded that architecture is my way of life, I have stuck by it since."
As a graduate student, Braverman says she is learning how to put her knowledge to use in the community. "Architecture tends to come off as an aloof subject but it's not. Our problem is getting the public to understand how everyday design can make a world of difference in our environment."
Braverman and Hammon took a seminar course on Prototypical Architecture during the summer of 2011. Hammon says that ". . . it was during this class that we explored new modules for prototyping shelters." They studied precedents of prototypical architecture and ". . .then extracted our own based on what we saw from the successes of Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome."
Braverman states that the objective of their research ". . . was to research modular design and make a self-supporting structure so we came up with a design and figured out the materials and connections we would need to make it work. It was our own initiative to actually build the prototype rather than just doing the research." Their immediate goal was to use the structure for Habitat for Humanity's annual fundraiser, Shack-A-Thon. Hammon says that they aimed not only to ". . . research a module, but to prototype and fabricate a self-supporting structure based on the module. The material, corrugated plastic, was chosen because of its ability to withstand weathering. The whole shelter was fastened with aluminum post screws."
Hammon says that during the Shack-A-Thon they ". . . occupied the shack for an entire week and were able to observe its performance in various weather conditions." Known as the Folding Modular Retreat, the structure is a lightweight, efficient, affordable, and semi-permanent shelter to be used around the world.
Currently, Braverman and Hammon are working with NC State's Office of Technology Transfer to seek a patent for their design. They believe that their ". . . prototype has possible applications for disaster relief housing or semi-permanent camping possibilities." In the meantime, however, they are using their design to create ". . . fun architectural play-houses for children so that the majority of our population can understand that architecture has an affect on everyone in a good way and it's not just for wealthy people."
Presenting a 'team poster' at the Symposium is not unique, but winning as a team is a bit rarer. Their secret to a successful poster presentation is to put as much effort into the graphics as to the narrative! Braverman says that although the symposium focuses on research, future presenters still need to ". . .design a good presentation that everyone will understand. . ." and one that will be memorable to the judges!
Hammon says that she had a great time at the Symposium, and her favorite part was seeing all the other projects being presented. She's astounded by the ". . .unbelievable amount of research going on at NC State. . .[and is] so proud to be part of this university." Braverman and Hammon agree that posters should not only read well, but have great graphics and pictures as key components. With only an average of five minutes at each presentation, judges do not have time to read all the words on the posters.
When not working and studying, Braverman relaxes with her husband, Jonathan, and their dog, Thatcher. And she enjoys running -- mostly for fun, but Braverman would consider racing, especially for a good cause! Quieter times are spent painting and drawing. And when her schedule permits, she does floor events in gymnastics, as well as playing soccer (midfield position is her favorite).
Hammon's 'down time' is spent with a variety of activities. She enjoys riding her motorcycle -- especially on the Tail of the Dragon, near the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. Hammon is also a runner, and although she runs mostly in parks and along trails, she and Braverman are considering a 5K or 10K run sometime in the future. Hammon also likes attending wine tastings, listening to audio books, and playing video games with her fiancé, Kevin, who is a video game play programmer -- Starcraft2 and Assassin's Creed are favorites! In her spare time, she is also planning their elopement abroad!
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