Current Capstone Projects

In the 2018/2019 academic year, CGEN oversees capstone projects in several countries, including Cambodia, India, the Philippines, India and Guatemala, and one in Canada’s north. The teams of fourth-year students come from all engineering disciplines. Following are descriptions of some of the current projects CGEN is involved with.

Designing a Solar Dehydrator for Cricket Consumption in Siem Reap, Cambodia

This capstone project is a collaboration with World Vision to address malnutrition amongst vulnerable populations, specifically children under the age of two in Cambodia. Malnutrition at this age is critical, as the lack of protein-calories can lead to irreversible damage in the physical and cognitive development of children. World Vision has previously conducted studies proving the efficacy of cricket powder in delivering micronutrients that improve the health of children. Crickets have a high protein content and are widely and easily found in the region. Since small children without teeth are at risk of choking on crickets, WV has been dehydrating them, such that they can be turned into a powder that can be easily integrated into meals. They have been supplying sample communities in the province of Siem Reap with this cricket powder and have seen positive results upon its incorporation into small children’s diets, such as noticeable weight gain and a general increase in appetite.

The team travelled to Cambodia to conduct site visits and speak with the local communities. In order to prevent a dependence on a constant product supply, communities should be able to produce the powder on their own. However, the powdering of crickets is only possible when the crickets themselves are completely dried out. Due to Cambodia’s high humidity, this is a difficult task. Thus, there is a need to design a method by which communities can dehydrate crickets themselves first, which families can then grind into a powder. The team has 8 months to and a budget of $500 to develop a solution.

Alternative Power Sources to AquaResponse Water Filtration Systems in Remote Areas

The need for clean water is amplified following natural disasters when there is a greater chance of illness. GlobalMedic is helping to protect the basic human right to clean drinking water through its use of AquaResponse water filtration systems as part of their emergency response plans to communities affected by natural disasters and crises around the world. The client is seeking an alternative method of supplying power to the AquaResponse AR3 unit. Affected communities may not have access to the current power sources, such as 12V batteries or gas generators, and this can delay the delivery of potable water to those in need. As a result, previous operations have suffered delays from the absence of power sources. GlobalMedic is actively seeking out ways to improve the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of its initiatives. The client has approached the team for a solution which will enable Rapid Response Teams to deliver uncompromised performance in emergency situations. AR units are often transported over long distances via air or ground to destinations with harsh conditions. Therefore, the solution should prioritize both portability and durability. The capstone team is working on the development of an alternative power source for the portable ad low-cost AR3. Focusing on the power source alone will allow for the completion of prototyping and testing within the team’s $500 budget and 8-month timeline.

Coconut Paring for Medium-Scale Production in the Philippines

Coconut farming is an essential part of the economy in the Philippines. Most of the production facilities are located in industrialized areas of the country and not accessible to farmers in remote farming communities. As the global demand for coconut-based products increases, it is critical to strengthen the skills and resources of local farmers to improve their supply chain and enable higher incomes. The students in this capstone project work with a medium-scale coconut procession facility. The factory purchases coconuts directly from rural farmers in the region and produce high-value desiccated coconut. The current process for producing desiccated coconut involves a combination of manual and machine-assisted processes. The paring of coconut has been identified as the limiting step in the overall production.

The client requires a paring system that fits with the rest of the coconut processing procedures already in place. It must be efficient, easy to use, minimise wasted coconut meat, and not add additional mental or physical strain on the workers. In addition, it should be easy to construct and maintain on-site, and must cost less than $3000 USD.

Tackling Food Insecurity in Nunavut with Geodesic Greenhouses

Green Iglu works to provide remote communities in Northern Canada with sustainable food infrastructure. Harsh winter climates and minimal transportation infrastructure often make traditional agricultural processes and importing produce very difficult, meaning significant cost is added to the consumer price of food – up to four times as high compared to the average Canadian price. Currently, the organization works with Naujaat, Nunavut, a community experiencing a high rate of food insecurity. A geodesic greenhouse was built, where vegetables are grown from April to October. Over a period of three years, the organization teaches community members how to operate the greenhouse on their own. The capstone team was given the task of extending the growing season of this greenhouse to a full year.

The greenhouse uses vertical hydroponics and other methods to grow both leafy greens and root vegetables. During the winter months, the energy demand of the current system used to maintain growing conditions (mostly LED lights) is too expensive to be feasible. If the current heating system were to be used throughout the winter, the local grid in Naujaat, which supplies energy from diesel generators, would come to a cost of $0.73/kWh. To operate the greenhouse during the winter months, Green Iglu estimates that it would cost $30,000 in operating fees to ensure that an energy demand of 230 kWh per day is met. This is a significantly larger energy demand than the 3 kw per day required from April to October. To resolve this issue, changes must be made to the greenhouse in order to improve its energy efficiency, thus lowering its operating cost to sustain growth for the entire year. The group is analysing the internal energy system of the dome including studying heat transfer, air circulation, and light diffusion.