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Solar Powered Aquaponics: Modeling Real World Solutions through Engineering Technology

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

New Directions for ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Sean Glen Wood University of Houston, Downtown

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Glen earned his bachelor’s degree in Controls and Instrumentation Engineering Technology with a minor in Sustainability from the University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, Texas, in 2018, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Glen was heavily involved in the Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability at the University, participating in multiple research projects that emphasized sustainable technologies in the urban setting.

He is currently working for Shell as a member of the Shell Graduate Program class of 2019 as a Process Automation Control and Optimization (PACO) Project Engineer. He is an active professional member of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

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Sergio Pena Diaz


Victoria Valencia University of Houston, Downtown

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Victoria Valencia is an undergraduate at the University of Houston-Downtown, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Control and Instrumentation Engineering Technology. She is currently studying for her Fundamentals of Engineering (F.E) exam and hopes of gaining employment as a Control Systems Engineer or a Startup Engineer.

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Vassilios Tzouanas University of Houston, Downtown

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Vassilios Tzouanas is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Technology at the University of Houston – Downtown, in Houston, Texas. He also serves as department chairman. He received all his degrees in chemical engineering and obtained his Ph.D. from Lehigh University. He has worked in the industry for 19 years where he held technical and management positions with major operating companies as well as process control technology development companies. Since 2010, he has been with UHD where he teaches university courses in process control, modeling and simulation, process design and operation, applied thermodynamics and heat transfer, and numerical methods. Dr. Tzouanas research interests include process modeling, simulation and design, process control, and renewable energy systems. Dr. Tzouanas is an ABET Program Evaluator (PEV) for Engineering and Engineering Technology programs. He is also member of AIChE and ASEE.

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Lisa Deane Morano University of Houston, Downtown

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ABSTRACT Solar Powered Aquaponics: Modeling Real World Solutions through Engineering Technology

Corporations, cities and countries around the world are embracing the philosophy of sustainability. Sustainable thinking means creating plans that include economic viability, environmental protection with social and technological advances. Such a mind-set will help solve many of humanity’s complex and pressing environmental issues including global warming, increased population and resource demand while addressing the epidemics of poverty and obesity. At the University of Houston-Downtown we have created the Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability (CUAS) to address such problems through teaching, research and community outreach. One of the most active initiatives of this program is a summer Experiential Learning program in CUAS (EL CUAS) that has cross-disciplinary students work in teams to create a sustainable solution to a problem in our urban environment. In addition to taking two courses (Fundamentals of Sustainability, Renewable Energy Systems) students must to design, build and test their solution over the course of a summer.

This year one area of focus was the creation of one large solar-powered aquaponics system inside the UHD Sustainability Garden. Aquaponics is defined as a system that grows fish and plants hydroponically. Although such systems can produce a great deal of food in a small physical space they are criticized for using fossil fuel. This system relies on solar power. The UHD aquaponics system utilized two large recycled transport totes of 275 gallons which have been cut and converted to a two large tank system with flat growing beds. One tank will be for holding fish and the second tank will be for maintaining water levels. Water moves from the fish tank to the first gravel bed where red worms will be held to help breakdown waste. The first grow bed also has a bell siphon which empties into a second floating grow bed where greens will be grown. This multi-disciplinary program emphasizes important aspects of an education that will assist students in the real world. Majors in this program have included engineering technology, biology, chemistry, math, psychology and interdisciplinary studies. Students must master the language of other disciplines, work together to design and build a system and make sure the system meets the original goals set by the project. Such programs could be a model for the future, high-impact, cross-disciplinary direction of engineering technology education.

Wood, S. G., & Diaz, S. P., & Valencia, V., & Tzouanas, V., & Morano, L. D. (2019, June), Solar Powered Aquaponics: Modeling Real World Solutions through Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33277

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