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Oct 23

Kettering Entrepreneurs – Future Tech Farm and GlobaLean

Entrepreneurs looking for food sustainability solutions

By Patrick Hayes | phayes@kettering.edu

Finding new ways to produce healthy, sustainable food sources for a growing population is a necessity. Austin Lawrence, a current Kettering University student, and Brian Falther, a 2010 Kettering University graduate, are motivated to offer a solution to food sustainability.

Falther, who is living in Grand Rapids (originally from Stow, Ohio), and Lawrence, a Mattawan High School graduate from Kalamazoo, met through the Kettering Entrepreneurial Society, and have been collaborating ever since.  Falther and Lawrence describe Future Tech Farm as, “A project to organically grow crops through automation, sustainability and efficiency.”

“Our motivating factor is that in 40 years, there are going to be over 9 billion people on the planet,” said Lawrence, a senior Mechanical Engineering major. “There isn’t enough land on Earth to accommodate and feed that projected population with current technology. We want to upgrade farming technology and bring it into the city.”

Currently, Falther and Lawrence are conducting research on growing techniques like aquaponics – using fish and recycled water to grow food in an interdependent loop system without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. Eventually, they would like to design a prototype vertical aquaponics farm in a repurposed shipping container and after proving sustainability, expand to warehouses and other vacant industrial buildings in cities.

“As engineers, we want to offer solutions to problems that face the world,” Lawrence said. “Access to food is something we all have a need for.”

Falther and Lawrence are working on prototypes of several different scales and would eventually like to expand the project to include more than just Grand Rapids facilities.

“We’re based in Grand Rapids right now, but our ultimate goal is to expand this to other cities,” Lawrence said. “We want to get involved in the community as much as possible. For example, Grand Rapids has a lot of restaurants, and restaurants produce a lot of organic waste. We could convert that waste into fertilizer, use it to grow our crops and sell vegetables back to those restaurants.”

The project has a Facebook page and Lawrence and Falther are also blogging about their research.

Student applying ‘Lean’ principles to healthcare

By Patrick Hayes | phayes@kettering.edu

As an Industrial Engineering student at Kettering University,  Chad Champine isvery familiar with ‘Lean’ principles in industry settings. They’ve combined that knowledge, along with feedback he’s received as a member of the Kettering Entrepreneur Society (KES), to found GlobaLean, a consulting firm that helps bring Lean principles to healthcare institutions.

GlobalLean plans to begin working with a network of healthcare facilities in South Carolina and the business was featured by MLive.com this summer.

The business has been aided by support from KES. GlobaLean received a $3,500 seed investment in March, but Champine noted that the expertise and resources available to student entrepreneurs in the organization are far greater than just monetary investments.

“Our involvement with the Kettering Entrepreneur Society has provided us with exponential growth both personally and professionally,” Champine said. “KES challenges all of its members to think outside of the box and provides a professional atmosphere to develop our new venture. With a range of entrepreneurial expertise and substantial business advice, the society’s seed grant program has given us the opportunity to network with industry professionals while strategically developing a sound business plan.”

For more on KES, contact Dr. Massoud Tavakoli, the founding faculty mentor, at massoud.tavakoli@kettering.edu.