Gannon Students Create Aquaponics System for Local Non-Profit
Posted: May 16, 2014
Two Gannon University students in the environmental engineering
program successfully created and donated an aquaponics system,
fulfilling the criteria of their senior design course.
Steve Cox and Ben Thompson developed the idea of creating an
aquaponics system, a food production system that combines
aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing
plants in water), from an example housed at the Tom Ridge
Environmental Center and other academic institutions in the
Through the mentorship of Associate Professors Michelle Homan
and Harry Diz over the course of the fall and spring semesters, the
students researched, designed and built the aquaponics system that
includes five perch, five goldfish and strawberry plants. The
students chose these as the plants and animals for their project
with the intention on donating the system to Box of Light, a local
nonprofit for children of all ages that offers classes to teach
various skills to help children learn and think creatively; and
"What kid doesn't love strawberries!" said Thompson.
The 70-by-70 ft. aquaponic system will be housed in a greenhouse
at the Box of Light facility to teach the children and families
more about how it works and its benefits. The students collaborated
with and were encouraged by Annie Schmitt, an urban farmer employed
at Box of Light, who received her Permaculture Design Certification
from the Cornell Horticultural Extension.
The students hope that by working with Box of Light the
aquaponics system will grow and spread community involvement.
"Hopefully we can come back in 20 years and see a bigger system in
Erie and say, 'we helped start that,'" said Cox.