Rabi H. Mohtar 2016-08-24 04:08:25
The Global Design Team (GDT) class spans the academic year to provide real-world engineering challenges from the private and public sectors. Teams of three to five students work with their sponsors to develop practical solutions to the challenges posed. Projects are high-impact, full-cycle design experiences that help raise global awareness at home and abroad. GDT is part of the BAEN Capstone course. Teams travel to the project site, whether in Texas or abroad. The stakeholders, students, partner organizations, interested corporations, academic partners, and community members in the host locations share the costs. Working together, using the technical skills and competencies of the students, employees, and volunteers involved in the project, the goal is to address a specific challenge within the community for mutual benefit. Projects are selected based on their relevance to community-identified needs and their ability to offer the students an opportunity for creative, effective, sustainable problem solving. Quality control and accountability are ensured through ongoing assessment of personal and community needs, and progress toward the end goal is carefully monitored. Logistical and engineering support is provided by the partner organizations (NGOs, government organizations, industry and business, and academic institutions), and financial assistance comes from the partner organization, the university, and the students themselves. GDT offers hands-on experiential learning that develops skills useful in future careers, family life, and the community. The students and their community partners give and receive time, energy, knowledge, and creativity while accomplishing the requirements of the senior Capstone project. The 2016 GDT projects included: • A mobile unit for remote sample collection for the San Antonio River Authority. • A low-cost, locally sourced, off-grid system for improved water quality and heavy metal removal for Progressive Vellore in India. • A streamlined process to maximize profits for post-harvest processing of cardamom in Guatemala. • Sustainable, effective, and budget-friendly stormwater mitigation for a Texas Target Community. • An effective, cost-efficient water storage and distribution system in Nicaragua. • A design, operation, and maintenance plan for a small wastewater treatment facility in Ecuador. • A rainwater harvesting system with inexpensive technologies for wastewater treatment and improved water quality in Mexico for the World Wildlife Fund. • A mobile app reader for an RFID chip to assist with cotton ginning processing management. • A plan for crop layouts and irrigation installation for local community-supported agriculture. • An environmentally friendly, natural foodgrowing method that combines the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics. For the last project listed above, our aquaponics team worked with Organized Organics, a San Diego-based NGO. The project goal was to grow nutritious, often organic, food plants for home consumption with a low-power indoor aquaponics system that is aesthetically pleasing, automated, and produces a small carbon footprint. The impact of this project could be widespread, as freshwater scarcity and depletion of soil nutrients are increasingly addressed through aquaponics. The method used could help reduce the need to produce food on water-stressed land by relying instead on the symbiotic relationship between vegetables and fish in a self-contained ecosystem. The student team, Cody Mertink, Cody Nedbalek, Andrew Polasek, and Grant Weaver, built a family-sized vertical farming unit using retrofitted furniture, a custom growbed with an innovative irrigation system, sensors, and solenoid valves. The growbed at the top of the unit is irrigated with water from a fish tank below, and any runoff re-enters the tank to feed the fish. The team found that LEDs produced the most suitable lighting, which keeps electricity consumption low. The team also provided a detailed analysis of the power consumption and water requirements for the prototype. The overall monthly cost of operation is approximately $6.92 per month in San Diego, $7.66 in New York, and only $4.69 here in College Station, Texas. This environmentally friendly, natural food-growing system combines the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics without wasting water or adding chemical fertilizers.
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