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An Innovative Partnership with TU Students

There’s nothing like returning to the beginning in order to look forward. As part of a partnership with The University of Tulsa’s Mechanical Engineering Department, Technician and Education Specialist Reese Hundley took a group of senior engineers back to Symbiotic’s aquaponic system at Global Gardens in Tulsa on Friday, Oct. 11.

Symbiotic Aquaponic is excited to partner with TU Mechanical Engineering students for their senior design project. Before graduation from TU, they get the opportunity to work with local companies and clients to innovate, design, and create a tangible project, taking their knowledge beyond the classroom. And going beyond the classroom is what we at Symbiotic are all about.

The objective of the project is to develop a compost and solar-powered water heating system to aid and extend the growing season of aquaponic systems. Beyond heating the air around the system, heating the roots of the plants through the fish tank into the grow bed allows the plants to grow more efficiently and for a longer period of time. Through this system, the project will seek to use biodegradable waste and produce compost in the spring, as well as heat the aquaponic system through the winter.

This project will incorporate and build on existing aquaponics technology to create this new system. A key component of the design will be the ability to recreate this system for future use, as designing such a system will be influential for future growing and can also serve as an example of the impact of education and partnerships. Our systems are modular, and can therefore be recreated to fit any need. The goal of this compost and solar-powered heating system is the same. With success in this project, it could open new doors for growing outside of greenhouses and provide a system that would be virtually waste-free.

Collaboration is a necessity in innovation. For many of the team, this is their first encounter with aquaponics and sustainable growing. In addition to learning about the objectives of their project, the team was able to learn about the functions, systems, and opportunities that aquaponics presents by engaging hands-on with the system and experts. Not only are these students becoming well-equipped to build a sustainable compost system in conjunction with aquaponics, they are also learning about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle.

This aspect of partnership is crucial for both parties involved, but also for the future of sustainability in general. In pursuing a sustainable lifestyle, it is necessary to work with others, to rely on the strengths and knowledge together to build something new that will better serve society. In the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and education, the team of students will work closely with Reese Hundley and the systems at Outdoor Classroom in Tulsa, as they design, test, and create this innovative and sustainable compost and water heating system.

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