Urban farming

The goal of the project is to engage Engineering students from HKU through a series of project-based experiential learning activities that lead to a final weeklong visit to Dagon University in Myanmar. A key objective of this project is to allow students from Hong Kong and Myanmar to understand and appreciate the role of technologies in developing a sustainable urban living environment in spite of their geographical and socio-economical differences.
It serves as a unique learning experience for HKU students as they have to develop, prepare and deliver the teaching materials, as well as to construct the project with students in Myanmar throughout this process. Learning from last year’s experience, we intend to focus this year’s project on the theme of urban farming and food production. The focus on farming and food production adds an important dimension to the project where HKU students, who are mainly brought up in well developed urban settings, and Dagon University students, who are living a developing country, can engage in intellectual exchanges through technologies that aim to address a common global problem on food production through urban farming.

Interdisciplinary teaching team

This project was started in June 2018 initiated by the Engineering faculty at the University of Hong Kong.
Teachers from various departments worked together to design an experiential learning programme for students to work on one of the major environmental sustainability issues of the 21st century – Sustainable urban farming.

Chung To Kong (Andy)
PROJECT LEADER
Master in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Speaker in TEDx HK about Maker Mindset One of the founders of HK Maker faire
Dr. W.L. Tam (Vincent)
Project supervisor
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
We believe that engineers can make real impacts and change our world through their creativity, design thinking, communication and engineering skills, technical knowledge, and more importantly the courage to DREAM and TRY OUT new ideas in a persistent manner.
Dr. C.K. Chui (Kit)
DIRECTOR
TAM WING FAN INNOVATION WING
Faculty of Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
We believe our future engineers should nourish a sense of mission to make a better world with technological innovations. Engineering educators should engage students to explore the world, creating opportunities for them to learn about the needs of the underprivileged, and acquiring practical work experience in developing solutions with real-world impact.
Dr. K.H. So (Hayden)
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
Professor L.H. Tham (George)
Department of Civil Engineering
Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning – UG and Special Projects) of the Faculty of Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
Mohammad Owais Kerney (OK)
Computer Science (Project Coordinator, Research Assistant)

Team member

Subhayan Roy
Computer Science
This Programme will give me an opportunity to travel to a new country, experience their culture, enhance my technical and cultural quotient, and most importantly make an impact on improving the lives of farmers and enhancing the farming system in Myanmar which subsequently in future could be applied elsewhere. Being an Indian I truly understand the high importance of farming as an occupation in developing countries and the lack of technical competence in the field. One of the key reasons I chose to major in Computer Science was because of the immense applications that it has and its potential to make an impact on various walks of life. The learning's and connections that I would get to make through this Programme would help me in all spheres of life. I strongly believe that this program would be deeply rewarding both at the personal level and in terms of my career prospects.
Priyank Sharma
Computer Engineering
Since childhood, I have had a knack for technology and I have tried to grab every learning opportunity that came along my way. Recently I was a part of MindoroBots Project - an initiative led by the students at The University of Hong Kong and funded by HKU GHELC. On a two-week trip to the Mindoro Island, Philippines during December 2017, we worked with Ecotone Resilience, in partnership with Scoutbots, to make a 3D map of the Coral Reef in the area using a swarm of self-built robots. I spearheaded the electronics and communication team and was responsible for multi-agent coordination of swarm robots and GIS mapping. (https://mindorobots.wordpress.com ). Currently, I am the project coordinator of Hanoi Waterbots (project funded by HKU GHELC) that aims to build semi-autonomous robots for systematic monitoring and estimation of pollution in the Red River of Hanoi, Vietnam. The project will be in effect from 15-30 June 2018. In March 2018, I was a part of the team that was sent on an experiential learning trip to Jaipur to discover and explore overseas experiential learning opportunities for engineering students at HKU. Last summer, I was an instructor at iD Tech Camps held at The University of Hong Kong (June – August 2017). I taught teens and pre-teens programming softwares such as Photoshop, Scratch, Minecraft, JavaScript, AppInventor etc. After this, I continued to work as a part-time instructor (volunteer) at Koding Kingdom (based in Cyberport) to teach programming and robotics courses. (Sep 2017 – Feb 2018). My technical skills include programming in C/C++ (Advanced), Java, Python, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Shell script; Experience in Linux and Windows environment; Robotics building and programming using Arduino; IoT development using Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT. I believe that this project can help me hone my skills both at academic as well as experiential platforms.
Sidhant Gupta
Computer Engineering
Technology is the growling engine that drives change and my aim is to drive this change into society. I hope to work with the team to develop a meaningful and impactful derliverable that transforms both the society it's introduced into as well as the global technological status quo. Over the year's I've worked on and developed numerous robots that attempt to push the limits of the relationship between humans and machines. The fundamental goal is to make our world more efficient and empathetic at the at same time and I look forward to working in Myanmar where I can hopefully usr my skills to make a positive impact to the region. I also hope to get a glimpse of Burma's rich history through the project!
Anushka Vashishtha
Computer Science
I am Anushka, a year 3 Computer Science student at HKU. I am from India where agricultural sector is give importance, which made me realize the need for efficient farming practices. I believe that technology plays an important role in steering agriculture along a more sustainable path. From the agricultural sector's perspective, this requires an optimal investment plan for a nation's stock of environmental assets that accounts for an intergenerational fulfilment of sustainability's dual goals which are satisfying food and fiber needs at reasonable costs to consumers as well as providing environmental service flows. But this is a difficult task, since in developing nations, most farmers cannot get proper access to technologically aided tools from firms, therefore when they try productivity growth, it leads to soil erosion and other environmental hazards. As part of the CodeXpress team, I want to contribute towards a more sustainable practice in urban farming so as to help the farmers locally and I am enthusiastic to explore and learn different approaches to find solutions in urban farming.
Ahmed Abbas Alvi
Mechanical Engineering
Everything can be fixed if you just have the right tools. I firmly believe that a lot of the world’s big problems can be solved with innovative design and am super excited about working with a group of highly motivated and talented people to solve a real-world problem and help improve lives. The project presents an opportunity for all of us contributors to ideate, innovate and instigate change, employing concepts we have learnt in class and banking upon our different experiences and education. I personally love a hands-on challenge and am looking forward to exploring new ideas, getting creative with the problem-solving process and learning from my teammates during the process. I am sure each one of the participants will bring a unique perspective to the group and I look forward to working with such a diverse group of people!
Divyansh Singh
Computer Science
Interdisciplinary program like these offer a great opportunity where everyone can share their field-specific knowledge to solve a real-world problem. This would not only help me learn more about the working of Arduino’s but also concepts like agricultural sustainability. While providing me with a chance to help in designing solutions to problems like optimizing the water and fertilizer consumptions for farms to increase savings for farmers and produce a better yield. The goal that I want to achieve from this experiential learning project is to provide a cost-effective way to evaluate the soil quality that would empower the farmers to make an informed decision on their choices of farming practices by combining computing and Computer Science technologies with the scientific principles of smart farming.
Sang Wen Yao
Computer Science
The ability to cooperate with talents having different backgrounds is what I'm seeking for in HKU. I also wonder how computer science could actually benefitting primary industrial sectors, but without the people with relevant background the exploring journey would not be possible. My father is a traditional beekeeper in Taiwan so I hope the experience in Myanmar could empower me to later contribute to his career. To all the mates getting in here, cheers! 🙂
Maitraee Mistry
Medical Engineering
Cross-disciplinary learning between science, medicine and engineering is the fuel to my major, and I believe CodeExpress Myanmar 2018 will provide me with first-hand experience to be a part of knowledge exchange and fully understand the implications of my major in fields other than the medical industry. Hailing from a developing country where a large portion of the population rely on the primary sector as their main source of income, I am no stranger to either the socio-economic potential of the agricultural sector, nor to the obstacles that till this date impede its global progress. CodeExpress Myanmar 2018 will I believe enable me to be a part of the change in removing the obstacles to agricultural development, by enabling me to use my knowledge to help implement urban farming technologies in Myanmar, and also develop transferable skills that will not only aid me in my future career, but might also provide me with the ability to promote similar technologies in my home country Bangladesh
Chun Kit Fung
Mechanical Engineering
Hi, I am Benny, I am glad to be selected as a participant of CodeXpress'18. I think this is a great opportunity for me to have a cultural and technological exchange with students in different disciplines and different nationalities. I think it will enrich both my knowledge in Science and Engineering and broaden my horizon towards the society in the world. Also, I think this is a give and take experience too. First of all, I would like to contribute by giving out my engineering sense and knowledge to the project. Like robot build sense and Arduino programming skills. While learning different skills that I don't familiarize with, like cloud-based database. Lastly, I think this project will be fun and educational, I am look forward to it.
Cheuk Ting Lam
Civil Engineering
This project is indeed a wonderful aggregation of technical expertise contributed by University students from various disciplines and backgrounds. It is my aspiration to contribute my knowledge in soil sciences and structural design from my own field of engineering study to the development this soil monitoring system. Through participating this experiential learning program, I’m sure interdisciplinary engineering knowledge can link up in a collaborative manner to tackle practical problems. For instance, civil engineering students will get to appreciate the significance of electrical hardware and database infrastructure in applying their knowledge in soil chemistry. This stimulates how real-life engineers work in teams in solving challenges rather than working individually on their own desks. This will also be a chance for us to realize the differences in the way of teaching and learning between these two Universities situated in dissimilar urban and cultural settings.
Utkarsh Goel
Computer Science
Having joined CodeXpress, 2018 lets me make a few accomplishments for the first time. I initially planned to join CodeXpress because I was involved in a couple of projects regarding urban farming in Hong Kong and had developed an understanding and interest for it. My research for these projects has taught me that urban farming is essential for a sustainable future. However, it lacks the technological development unlike many other industries. Hence, it becomes a responsibility to make positive development and I wish to apply my skillset of computer programming and electronics to do so. I am sure that working with a team of such diverse academic and cultural background is going to be a challenge, however, rewarding. This is rather the best part of this program. This is going to be one of my first collaborative projects with such a talented team and I expect to have an amazing learning experience from the program.
Renjie PI
Computer Engineering
I am Renjie, current 2nd year student major in Computer Engineering, I am thrilled to be able to join this program, I enjoy coding and playing with wires and circuits, I am willing to experience all different kinds of learning and keep building up my knowledge, this is a great opportunity for me to practice my skills, make more friends through team work and most importantly, make contribution to the society using my knowledge.
Aayushman Singh
Civil Engineering
The project is a visionary and much-needed amalgamation of sustainability and public service. Both these aspects draw me towards my own vision of a future I want to build. Being able to work with colleagues with a united aim such as this is motivating and reason enough to dedicate myself to the program. HKU has given me this opportunity and I am enthusiastic about giving my best and ensuring a positive impact on Myanmar in the years to come. Being a civil engineer who is concerned with the drastic environment changes and the immediate need in the shift of the vision from production to innovation and thinking of the community and for the community, I am ready to give my full to this program.
AMRITHKIRAN MANAVEDAN
Computer Engineering
This project incorporates areas that I have experience and interest in. Using modern technology to enhance farming yield is a great way to tackle problems related to global food production. Since I grew up in a rural area, adjusting to Yangon and connecting with the people there should be an easy task for me. Programming is second nature to me and I have developed many apps and games in the past. I am also an avid technology enthusiast with limited experience in the hardware side and thus, through this trip, I expect to learn how technology and farming can go hand in hand. Since I also volunteer regularly at an organization dedicated towards providing food for the poor and reducing food waste, I am delighted to be a part of a trip that encompasses all my hobbies and activities.
Haihui Zhou
BEng and BBA
I am so glad that I can join in this program. I am first attracted by this activity because of my interest in programming. After I know more about things we will do, I find out that it would be a great chance for an engineering student to indulge passion and deploy technological knowledge to contribute something meaningful to the local community. CodeXpress gives us this platform to widen our horizons, so we can experience the different culture in Myanmar. Moreover, I believe it would be a great pleasure to work as a team sharing similar passion and overcome challenges together through ideas exchanged. I know there are a lot of challenge ahead, but I believe we would be able to solve it with this strong team we get. Now, I am truly excited and looking forward to friends we will meet and things we are going to learn in this unique journey.

Designing stage

 

Our project is aimed at making farmers in Myanmar better informed on the soil conditions for farming. We have identified 4 of the main parameters that can help us analyze soil condition which are humidity, air temperature, soil temperature and soil moisture. Our device is designed to measure numerically all 4 of the above parameters. It achieves this by using individual sensors for each component all of which is intricately placed on the Arduino board. The device is powered by a battery with a solar panel. A WI-FI connection would be setup using an antenna which supports a radius of 100m. Additionally, the Raspberry Pi would serve as a local server. Data from the device would then be sent to ThingSpeak a Cloud-based API which will enable us to store, process and visualize the data. Finally, depending on the facilities available on-site, we may consider connecting the device to a water pump or have a mechanical support to lift it above the ground.

Prototyping and testing stage

To ensure that our work on the device moves along a structured and planned manner allowing us to explore various options along with keeping with the deadlines, we have divided our project into 3 major milestones each pertaining to meet advanced environmental conditions. These are as follows:

1)First-stage milestone (Data Transmission under ideal environment)

In this scenario, we assume that we have stable internet condition throughout. This scenario serves as our preliminary testing and prototyping conditions. The sensors used in this scenario measures resistive soil moisture, soil temperature, air temperature and humidity. The Arduino device is placed in a well-defined box and hot glue, dehydration powder, plastic bag and Nano spread particle were used as water-proofing options for the box. The device is powered by a power-bank which charges and discharges simultaneously. In this scenario, we assume that the router will support us with a 100m radius internet network using which the data can be sent through. The data is sent to Thingspeak, an open-source API to store and retrieve data. The data is then sent to the AWS Lambda function which formats the data and sends it across to the webpage for visualization purpose.

2) Second-stage milestone (Adaptation for Wi-fi & Energy constrained Environment & improved security)

In this scenario, we assume that we have irregular internet connection which would affect our data transmission to the cloud. Ideally, in this case we wish to ensure that we could store the readings offline in our database so that no data is lost. The sensors used for this scenario are Current and Voltage sensor (MAX471), Capacitive soil moisture sensor (SEN0193), RSSI and Switch. The device structure team also considered more advanced considerations in this case. For human touch detection, a switch would be placed which would trigger the device to be switched on. To ensure that minimal amounts of sensors would be directly exposed to adverse conditions, necessary adjustments were made on the box. Our data design for the irregular internet connection scenario is such that the data from Arduino is sent to Raspberry Pi wherein MongoDB acts as the database. This ensures that no data is lost.

3)Third-stage milestone (Exploration for more sensors & Energy optimization)

After laying the foundation of the device, in this scenario our team wishes to try out the possibility of using various sensors and optimizing the use of energy. The sensors tried in this scenario are pH, soil salinity, soil conductivity, leaf moisture & temp, CO2 measurement and GPS. For energy optimization, the possibility of using 3.3V was tried instead of 5V. Additionally optimization of battery current I/O and sleep mode were explored.

Deploying stage

This section includes the Deployment of the device:
1. The teaching workshops (By July 30)
2. The field trips
3. The deployment and data collection
4. Feedback from stakeholders