Talia Thomas

MIT Department: Mechanical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State Univers

Faculty Mentor: Leon Glicksman

Research Supervisor: John Kongoletos

Website: LinkedIn



My name is Talia Thomas. I’m from the vibrant army town of Ft. Meade, MD. I am currently a rising junior mechanical engineering student from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC. I am extremely interested in renewable energy integration and water-purification applications in the developing world. Along with pursuing a Ph.D. in sustainable developments and renewable energy systems, I hope to remain an active and positive force in my community and to do my part in making this world a little better for those who come after me. My hobbies include traveling the world, hiking, and serving my community.


2017 Research Abstract

Optimizing Occupant Thermal Comfort Through the Integration of Exterior Shading Techniques in the Desert Regions of India

Talia Thomas, Department of Mechanical Engineering, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC,
Caralyn Cutlip, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA,
Johnathan Kongoletos, Department of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA,
Leon Glicksman, PhD, Departments of Architecture and Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Natural ventilation combined with external shading holds great potential to optimize thermal comfort, improve our global energy savings, and mitigate our impact on our already strained environment. The integration of various passive ventilation techniques is a key way of survival for those of the lowest socioeconomic group as these individuals are the most susceptible to the extremities of climate change. Exterior shading is a cost-effective method for a healthier living environment as it significantly decreases solar heat gains on the shaded façade while lowering indoor and ambient air temperatures. Our testing system is comprised of three concrete chambers used to explore the impacts of exterior shading devices on indoor air, wall, and radiative temperatures. When tested separately, the horizontal overhangs and vertical shade nets placed on both the east and west faces of the chambers have similar impacts on the indoor air and west wall temperatures. Therefore, effectively blocking similar amounts of solar heat gain from affecting the chamber. In comparison, the canopy shade net placed over the roof performed marginally similar to the control which was defined as a chamber with a white painted roof slab, white painted east and west walls, and reflective party wall exterior insulation on its north and south faces. This showed that the integration of a canopy shade net is comparable to the utilization of white paint in regards to lowering inside air temperature.

The results suggest that either a vertical exterior drapery or shade net placed over a patio awning or the integration of horizontal roof overhangs will best improve the thermal comfort of those occupying the homes in Bhuj, India under the Indian government’s “Affordable Housing for All” initiative.