When Jeanette Smith ‘15 returned to Kettering University in the fall of 2013 to complete a thesis project, it had been nearly 12 years since she’d been enrolled. Now, not only did she complete that project, she received a major University honor for her work.
Smith, who needed to complete a Professional Practice Thesis, received information from the Kettering Center for Culminating Undergraduate Experiences (CCUE) office that provided options for students to complete their degree requirements and possible thesis projects. One project, in particular, caught her attention.
“Dr. (Matthew) Sanders and the CCUE department were putting together a project with Flint Metro Community Development that I was interested in,” Smith said.
The project involved working with Metro Community Development to design an aquaponics facility in a warehouse as well as working with the organization’s YouthBuild program to construct it. Once fully operational, the facility will provide the Flint community with access to fresh fish and produce, provide opportunities to learn job skills for the YouthBuild students and be scalable so that it can be expanded at a larger property in the future.
In 2014, the project received a $25,000 grant from the Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) program, which funds student-led work focused on addressing urgent community needs and building sustainable communities.
And now, her thesis that resulted from the project -- “Community Aquaponics System” -- has been recognized with a Kettering University institutional honor, the 2015 Outstanding Thesis Award. The Professional Practice Thesis not only allowed Smith to complete her degree requirements, it also allowed her to help make an impact on the community.
“This project is now part of the youth program at Metro Community Development, where they are training young people and helping them complete their education while also developing professional skills,” Smith said. “It is also going to help bring healthy produce to the community.”
Smith’s thesis was selected for the award by a multidisciplinary group of Kettering University faculty after review of several nominations. Sanders, director of CCUE, and Tom Creech, director of Sponsored Research at Kettering, served as Smith’s faculty advisors on the project.
Smith, who is graduating with a degree in Environmental Chemistry, is exploring career option but is interested in making environmentally friendly coatings for the automotive industry that exceed current specifications for corrosion protection.
“This project is helping the community in many facets and I was very appreciative to be a part of it,” Smith said.
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