The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Miniature Urban Farming Plant: A Complex Educational “Toy” for Engineering Students

Lina Schulze-Buxloh, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences (Germany)

Rolf Groß, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences (Germany)


Urban farming is an innovative and sustainable way of food production and is becoming more and more important in smart city and quarter concepts. It also enables the production of certain foods in places where they usually dare not produced, such as production of fish or shrimps in large cities far away from the coast. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to show students such concepts and systems in real life as part of courses: visits of such industry plants are sometimes not possible because of distance or are permitted by the operator for hygienic reasons. In order to give the students the opportunity of getting into contact with such an urban farming system and its complex operation, an industrial urban farming plant was set up on a significantly smaller scale. Therefore, all needed technical components like water aeriation, biological and mechanical filtration or water circulation have been replaced either by aquarium components or by self-designed parts also using a 3D-printer. Students from different courses like mechanical engineering, smart building engineering, biology, electrical engineering, automation technology and civil engineering were involved in this project. This “miniature industrial plant” was also able to start operation and has now been running for two years successfully. Due to Corona pandemic, home office and remote online lectures, the automation of this miniature plant should be brought to a higher level in future for providing a good control over the system and water quality remotely. The aim of giving the student a chance to get to know the operation of an urban farming plant was very well achieved and the students had lots of fun in “playing” and learning with it in a realistic way.

Keywords: urban farming, food production, smart engineering, 3D printing, sustainability.

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