Our planet is on the brink of a global food crisis due to a variety of factors including population growth, land degradation and a harsher climate. It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to develop new strategies for ensuring the health of our ecosystems and security of food supplies. One solution to these problems is to grow food indoors via a hydroponic system. This method of farming allows people to grow food all year round, without being limited by the current seasonal cycle, it is able to grow a food yield 240 times more than traditional farming. Not only that, but hydroponics also reduces both the amount of land required, (300 – 500%) and total water usage, (95%). However, hydroponic farming is still a developing field, which means it has lots of room for improvement. The Boulder Experimental Electronics Manufacturing (BEEM) Lab at the University of Colorado has worked hard to improve indoor farming operations by developing novel sensor transducers that can read specific nutrient levels in hydroponic fluids. While similar technologies already exist, the time-to-data and price-point of these products make them undesirable and have prevented them from entering the market. The main challenge with the BEEM Lab’s technology at its current stage is the ability to provide a user-friendly experience for the indoor grower to extract critical data. Thus, the BEEM Lab tasked us with addressing this issue for our senior design project. Our purpose for this project was to develop a housing and electronics platform that will read the data from the transducer sheets accurately and quickly, like that of diabetic test strips, except for plant growth media. The key aspect of the design is that the system is portable, lightweight, and requires only a basic understanding of its function from the user. And so, iteration after iteration, our team has successfully designed and manufactured a functioning prototype that fulfills all our client’s demands and constraints. We hope that this prototype will help pave the way for our client’s future and have a beneficial impact on the ability to grow food in the future.


Boulder Experimental Electronics and Manufacturing Laboratory


Tom Wilke

Team Members

  • Luke Borgerding -- Test Engineer
  • Jack Mc Hale -- Systems Engineer
  • Brandon Muckenthaler -- CAD and Manufacturing Engineer
  • Pandora Down -- Electromechanical Engineer
  • Mujtaba Al Hubayl -- Logistics Manager
  • Hayden Holtrop -- Project Manager
  • Miguel Bermudez -- Financial Manager

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