© 2019 by Box Farm, a Senior Design Project at the University of Hawaii


Photo courtesy Italo Foglesong @italo.foglesong

The Francis Rhodes Montgomery Design Competition (FRMDC) is established in memory of Francis Rhodes Montgomery to further the field of mechanical engineering and in memory of his wife, Margaret Montgomery, who was a dedicated supporter of the competition. It is aimed at students of mechanical engineering1 with the goal of recognizing and regarding innovative design efforts, the practicality of the design, and the ability to present the design in a clear and understandable manner.

The competition is open to students currently enrolled in the University of Hawaii, College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering’s (UH COE DME’s) current school year’s Senior Design Class (ME 481/482) as qualified by the course instructor.

Awards, consisting of cash prizes in amounts determined by the ASME Hawaii Senior Section in consultation with the UH COE DME will be provided for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place competitors. The judging panel consists of at least three engineers from the community as selected by the ASME Hawaii Senior Section. The Box Farm team came first place, beating 12 other student teams, winning a cash prize of $500. The team is thankful for Dr. Trevor Sorensen for hi mentorship and support


Pictured  Project Manager Preston L. Tran and Dr. Marcelo Kobayashi with lettuce

"We are ready to automate the hydroponics loop, now that we have found the best settings for lighting and nutrient delivery conditions" said James Thesken, Controls Lead. The first batch of the harvested Choy and Lettuce were promptly gifted to Dr. Marcelo Kobayashi, the Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering. "This is great!" said Kobayashi on the following Monday after trying the fresh produce over the weekend. Dr. Trevor Sorensen, Lewis Moore and the families of the Box Farm team members were also recipients off the fresh, organic leafy green crop.

Update 3/15/2019: It was a historical day for the Box Farm team, who harvested its first batch of Win Win Choy and Lettuce this Friday, March 15th. This marks the conclusion of the first round of testing whose main purpose was to verify that the conditions of the system were favorable for plant growth. While seeds were not planted using the automatic seeding station the Box Farm comes equipped with, gelatin encased seeds were used to fulfill a secondary testing goal. The apparatus also included using nutrient concentrate and manual pH and EC monitoring, readying the hydroponics loop for automation measures. "The data we took with respect to plant health proved that not only were we able to grow plants in our system, but our lighting and nutrient conditions were so favorable that our plants thrived!" said Gabor Paczolay, the Statics and Living Systems lead.

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