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Jas Social Impact 2022 winners: “Gulde” project

SEDS news 5

We continue to introduce you to the winners of the Jas Social Impact 2022 competition. This year, two projects by NU SEDS students were recognized as winners of the contest organized by the NU Social Development Fund. The next project is “Gulde” which won in the category “Idea Grant”.

We talked to the project leader, Alikhan Talipbayev. He is a third-year undergraduate student in Electrical and Computer engineering. The co-founder of the project is Sanzhar Kaidarov. He is also a third-year undergraduate student in Electrical and Computer engineering. Together they will produce affordable units for farmers to grow hydroponic green fodder.

Alikhan, please tell us about your project?  Where did the idea come from?

My interest in hydroponics began in the summer of 2020 during quarantine. It was the middle of May, when everything was closed, and we were all sitting at home. One of those days, my father and I went to a country house to plant vegetables. As you know, planting in an open ground is not easy. First, you need to dig up the soil and then water abundantly to “wake up” the soil. There were no pumps and no pipes, so I had to water with buckets. The country house was far from our home, and every 2-3 days we would go there and I would do all this work. As an engineer, I did not like this. I was too lazy to do all this work so I searched for Information to automate everything, make it easy and with no manual labor. That is how I discovered hydroponics technology. I built my first hydroponic setup at home’s balcony. I did robotics in school, made several research projects so I had knowledge in basic engineering and automation that helped me in building my first setup. Assembly and maintenance of this setup was much easier than digging ground. It took me less than one hour every day to check the parameters such as electric conductivity of water, pH level, etc. I used sensors and made them so that I can see all the information on the dashboard. At the end of the fourth week, I got my first harvest of fresh cucumbers. They were tasty, and juicy. From that point, I delved deeper in this technology and in 2 years, my team and I built several hydroponic setups for different types of vegetables.

Why did you decide to choose this sphere? What benefit can your project bring or what problem will it solve?

In 2021 due to drought and lack of fodder in the southwestern regions of Kazakhstan, there was a mass loss of livestock. We immediately started to investigate this problem and search for ways to help the affected farmers. That is how we started our project – Gulde. We are building hydroponic setups and farmers can grow fresh grass with it. Most people think that hydroponics is all about biology, but it is not. Key point here is technology and automation. As an engineering students, for me and my team it is very interesting and exciting how technology can solve nowadays problems. We want to use our knowledge on practice and help society. In perspective, our team wants to explore this technology further and apply it for other spheres.

What are the next steps?

We are going to start production of hydroponic plants at our university, attract students from different faculties and develop our solution. This year, our goal is to finish a prototype, create a production version, demonstrate it to the public, and start selling it locally.