Artificial Growth, a step to the future

Engineer from Thomas More University wants to go to space driven by his contributions to

“Plantern”, a device which allows plants to thrive even in precarious conditions with complete autonomy.

In 2019, I was working for a tobacco distributor in the USA and I discovered the owner was searching for an engineer to develop a project he had conceived. I identified an opportunity to apply the skills I learned at Thomas More University, but this time in the USA. I applied for the project and was chosen to manage the development of an exciting new product as Project Manager. A grueling and exciting 18 months of research and development followed.

Soon after development began, the project was very promising and I was relocated to Colorado as Engineer Product Design Manager where I began the process of locating the realestate needed to build the factory and full production line for the product. I moved to Denver and was soon promoted to Director of Technology reporting directly to the CEO. I was working with people from different spheres and different countries around the world, including Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The device name is Plantern. It is a smart device to grow short cycle plants fully autonomously all managed through an app. We first implemented a prototype version to test the hardware and firmware compatibility. We did a lot of testing during those initial months of the project to determine certain conditions plants need to grow. The Plantern can precisely control wind, temperature/humidity, CO2, lumens and pH/nutrients of water creating perfect growing conditions for a variety of plants. This device has forged a path for clean, pesticide free growth of plants while consuming far less water than traditional methods. The concept having been proven, efficient production was the next hurtle. We built full prototypes to test a variety of plants and growing conditions in preparation for full production.

The biggest challenge as a Director of Technology was to find the right balance of cost-effective materials and reliable components. Additionally, we were faced with all the difficulties that accompany production in the face of a pandemic and the global component shortage which forced creative solutions to the difficult problems and market realities. It took lots of prototyping and failed trials but, even without having previous experience bringing a product of this magnitude to market, I helped accomplish this goal and the idea became a reality.

I learned to anticipate, hone and perfect even the smallest detail as it would directly impact the productivity of the production line and the quality of the final product. This experience helped me grow both personally and professionally. It made me a better engineer and a better manager. I was faced to overcome real day-to-day challenges and challenges that accompany a project of such magnitude. It challenged me in ways I had not foreseen but of which I am grateful.

I have set aside the tobacco industry and the Plantern, and now I find myself focusing my attention to the stars. I plan on pursuing different horizons in aerospace technology and I have decided to apply for a Master in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado-Boulder, a highly competitive program that opens doors to companies such as NASA and Space X. The next chapter shall be even brighter than the last.