On a hardscrabble patch of land between the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority house and the Triangle fraternity house, a lush and fertile plot showcasing a variety of green life rises above the grassy Quad.
With its roots in a student initiative through the Illinois Tech chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, UFarmIIT, the 5,000-square-foot campus community garden, went on to become an Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program course three years ago. Now UFarmIIT has expanded further, operating as both a student-run organization with support from the university’s Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research and as a research project that aims to illustrate how smart technology can improve urban farming practices.
This year solar panels were installed atop a new student-built shed, and a newly installed underground watering system soon will be fitted with smart sensors that will measure the moisture levels of the soil. UFarmIIT students are working with the university’s Center for Smart Grid Applications, Research, and Technology to developing a mechanism that will store excess energy generated from the panels, which can be used to power the farm.
“We’re going to have so much power, you’re going to be able to use it for phone charging, too,” recent ECE graduate Jimmy Shah told the Chicago Tribune in its June 2016 article about UFarmIIT.
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