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CDTM's green thumb

During this year's "Center Farming" election course, students of the Elite Graduate Program "Honours Degree in Technology Management" built a "Food Computer" at the Center for Digital Technology and Management. It is a table-sized agricultural technology platform that uses robotic systems to monitor and control the growth of plants and food within a specific room. The principle is based on hydroponics, the principle that plants grow in water instead of soil.

The fight against world hunger

During the kick-off of the "Center Farming" election course, the students learned, for example, that the "Food Computer" is an OpenSource project of MIT Media Labs. The so-called "Open Agriculture Initiative" (OpenAg for short), initiated within the framework of this project, has set itself the goal of ensuring a healthier and more profitable future for food systems. For this reason, a manual including a procurement list was published so that anyone could theoretically copy the "food computer". The idea is that the plants grow in a controlled and almost autonomous space, which means that strawberries could also be grown in the desert.

In addition, an exciting guest lecture by two members of the UN World Food Program (WFP) embedded the topic in a global context. Although most people in the western world are not really affected by hunger, almost 815 million people worldwide suffer from it. New technologies and approaches such as hydroponics could be a solution and have great potential. In the course of their presentation, the two WFP staff members also talked about fascinating projects in which farmers in remote regions of the world use the same technology to grow their products under extreme conditions.

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An extraordinary elective from CDTM, which is called "Center Farming" and revolves around the construction of the OpenAg "Food Computer" of the MIT Media Lab.

The fight against world hunger

The next two days of the elective course "Center Farming" were for the students of the Elite Graduate Program "Honours Degree in Technology Management" under the motto "Experiments - We are building a food computer". After initial difficulties, all the components of a food computer were finally made to work with a great deal of enthusiasm, creativity and unusual solutions. All disciplines represented in the Elite Graduate Program„Honours Degree in Technology Management“ (Business Administration, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Consumer Behaviour) were able to apply their skills and test interdisciplinary work in practice.

After successful work, the dream of growing exotic fruits in the FoodComputer immediately spread among the CDTM students. Participants. Unfortunately, a CDTM alumnus and founder of Plantura, a bio-fertiliser start-up, quickly dampened this excitement: "Start with kale. If you're really good, maybe you could try carrots. We'll hire anyone who can successfully grow carrots." Meanwhile the "Food Computer" has become an integral part of the "Smart Center" and all current and future students can look forward to the upcoming salad harvest!

Text: Elite Graduate Program "Honours Degree in Technology Management"