For their Senior Project, two Lovett students transformed a van into a sustainable, mobile, tiny house.
Lovett’s Senior Project program allows students to investigate possible careers, test their skills in the marketplace, and explore the wider world beyond Lovett. While most projects start in the spring of senior year, the framework for Colton Mays '19 and Jared Yarmowich’s '19 project began taking shape the year before on JOE (Junior Outdoor Expedition) when they discovered a shared interest in enjoying and preserving the environment. They also have a knack for construction, as each took four years of Design and Production and helped build sets for many Lovett plays.
At the beginning of their senior year, the two came up with the plan to retrofit a van into a sustainable tiny house that could be used for camping trips and exploring the country. With a budget in mind, part of which Jared and Colton fundraised, finding a suitable van was an adventure in itself: “Because we were buying a used car that needed to run well, Jared and I looked at countless vans,” explained Colton. Finally, with a van secured (lovingly named “Stew”), the Adventure Van team was full steam ahead.
The first day working on Stew revealed how ambitious the undertaking was going to be. Once the van was stripped, the team put the pedal to the metal in order to finish the renovation on time: running wires; designing and fitting the floor, walls, and ceiling; making cabinets; installing the battery, inverter, fuses, and solar panels; installing a sink and water pump; and finally, adding the countertops and other decorative touches.
When reflecting on Lovett’s Senior Project program, Jared and Colton realized how unique and transformative the opportunity was. “There were so many aspects of the project that I learned from and will use in many other parts of my life. One of the biggest lessons I learned was the importance of setting goals and deadlines for yourself and accomplishing them,” says Jared. Colton echoes this sentiment: “I am so grateful to Lovett for [this] opportunity. It is going to take a long time before I realize just how amazing this project was. I try to step back and say ‘two 18-year-old kids just did this,’ but it’s hard when we’re still in the moment.”
So what’s down the road for these two? Because of the opportunity to complete this senior project, both have decided to pursue engineering degrees next year in college, but not before hitting the road in Stew the Adventure Van for a cross-country road trip this summer with stops in Memphis, the Ozarks, and Colorado.