For four years now the Community First had very productive relationship with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering. As part of this collaboration, the students have helped us with sustainable and innovative projects like solar dryers, solar sanitation, and using risk husk for aquaponics, as well as helping us with some engineering and technical drawings. This year we are lucky to welcome a talented and enthusiastic group of young change makers. Here is a little bit about them and their thoughts on the program.
(From left to right)
Kirsty Smyth a 22 year old who is a recent graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering:
“What makes me excited about the program is the variety of work that is involved, the mixture of hands-on work and desktop based work. It seems that everyday is going to be interesting! I am looking forward to learning as much as I can about aquaponics and to helping to facilitate the sharing of this knowledge through preparing educational documents and helping to set up the farm school.”
Euan Donald a 20 year old chemical engineering student from Scotland:
"Working with Community First can sometimes involve hard work, however always rewarding. Aquaponics is an exciting idea and learning more about the systems and the people I work alongside which means no day is every boring! After all the troubles the raspberry pi has caused, I am looking forward to seeing it being used for the first time and watching it grow in directions I can't predict."
Valdemar Nordstrom a 22 year old mechanical engineering student from Sweden:
“ I am really happy about getting to know so many incredible people at Community First, especially the Khmer aquaponics students, from whom I still have so much to learn from. The work is rewarding, and I'm sure I will have lots of use from the practical skills I learned here in the future!”
Kamsi Okeke a 21 year old chemical engineering student from England:
"We are working on a brand new frontier, and we will be talking the largest problems facing aquaponic farming. This excites me to no end. Additionally, we have been given the opportunity to engage with locals and some of the very people that our project will contribute the most to as well."
Daphne Cronin a 21 year old French and Irish electrical engineering student :
“Everyday this project expands my mind as an engineer and a scientist working amongst such a driven team and learning more about the fascinating Khmer culture. This experience has also shown me that seeing myself more as a member of a global collective not an individual is key to creating lasting social innovation.”
This is the first year we are hosting the Edinburgh team on our campus so supplies needed to gathered and beds needed to be made. First stop was to Phsar Leu, Upper market, to purchase everything from mattresses and pillows to pots and pans.
With the help of our staff member Nimol Keb, the day at the market was a success and everything needed was found and purchased. The next step was to pile back up in the tuk tuk and head to the Community First campus to start on the construction of the bunk beds.
The team is helping us with key projects this summer that will greatly improve our aquaponic program. Needing a better method to accurately test the water in our aquaponic systems, Euan, Daphne, and Valdemar are working on a Raspberry Pi so we can monitor our systems continuously in real time. This innovative technology is a small single-board computer that can be programmed to do almost anything. They will be programming ours to measure pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and oxidation reduction potential.
Another project for the summer will be putting together a training kit for the people in the villages that will be working with our systems. Kamsi has been working hard on gathering relevant information on horticulture, aquaculture, integrated pest management, and nutrition from the USAID (The United States Agency for International Development). That will be combined with information developed by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that Valdemar, Kirsty, and Daphne have been tasked with summarizing for our kits.
We are so proud of the quick progress they have made! In their first week, with all their hard work and diligence, they were able to calibrate the raspberry pi and connect all the sensors, as well as make great progress on the training kits. It has been a busy week for our new volunteers, and more adventures are to come; so like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest!