Designing an aeroponic smart grow cabinet

Designing an aeroponic smart grow cabinet design team

Kihomi Adhémar, Stefan Busaga, Akhilesh Gattineni, Brandon Kim, Sylvia Ly and Jennifer Mane

Our project

We designed a high-end consumer product to grow microgreens in your home, using aeroponics and featuring our client’s innovative lighting technology. Our client, Genoptic, has developed lighting technology that can be used in everything from solar energy and agriculture to municipal lighting and LED signs. Our multi-level cabinet will use Genoptic’s LED grow lights and IC Smart Power Chip, and incorporates an autonomous irrigation system and control system so people can easily grow healthy microgreens. 


Our design solution 

We began by doing research to better understand this particular market. 

We discovered that aeroponics is at the pinnacle for agricultural applications because it minimizes water use, maximizes growth and results in hardier plants that are less prone to disease. Interestingly, there are very few applications for smaller-scale systems at the consumer level.

This led us to the decision to design a mini-greenhouse, or cabinet, that would run autonomously to grow microgreens, featuring Genoptic’s patented lighting technology. Their LED grow lights use AI to provide tailored illumination depending on the plant’s growth cycle. 

We designed a structure to include multiple shelves for plants, a thermoformed irrigation chamber, and food- and dishwasher-safe 3D-printed pods for the plants. 

We designed an automatic irrigation system and did the electrical design, including sensors for real-time monitoring of temperature and humidity. The system also includes a Human-Machine Interface (HMI) display. 

Although we developed design drawings for a full-scale cabinet, the prototype we built and tested is slightly smaller. 

MANU design poster


The challenges we faced 

This project required us to learn new systems and apply and integrate our knowledge in new ways. 

For example, our control system uses STMF4 series microcontrollers that we hadn’t worked with before at this scale, and we needed to learn a new development software and coding language. 

There were integration challenges with bringing together all the different elements that make this work, from structural design considerations and manufacturing requirements to irrigation flow design, electrical wiring and programming. 

Any consumer product like this must also meet specific standards and safety codes that we needed to learn about and then design the system to ensure it is in compliance with them. 

What we’re most proud of

Manufacturing is an interesting program because it brings together so many different kinds of engineering and is positioned at the intersection of mechanical, materials and, in this case, some electrical engineering and coding. 

We had to draw on knowledge we’d acquired throughout our degree, and we also had to learn some new skills, which was very rewarding.

Over the course of the project, we overcame a lot of challenges, learned new systems and did good engineering work. 

It was quite something to go from an idea in our head to a physical product by going through all the stages of the design cycle, from ideation and market research, to design, prototyping and testing. It was also very rewarding to work with our client and integrate their feedback into our solution, which could ultimately be manufactured and used by people who want to a stress-free way to grow microgreens in their homes. 


Our project’s future

We’ll be providing the design drawings and components to our client, and our understanding is that they might then consider advancing our work and presenting a full-scale prototype to investors. 

UBC manufacturing engineering students

Manufacturing Engineering

Students in the Manufacturing program will gain broad exposure to foundational engineering disciplines, and training across a range of major manufacturing processes and platforms, and instruction in production management and modern manufacturing...

Manufacturing Engineering

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