Inspiration

Pakistani students have won Bronze at an engineering competition in United States

A team of twelve Pakistani students has won Bronze at an engineering competition in United States

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3 minutes read

Under the supervision of CECOS university Peshawar and sponsorship of Directorate of Science and Technology, KPK, a team of 12 Pakistani undergrad students bagged a bronze medal at International Genetically Engineered Machines competition in Boston, USA. Students from different areas of Pakistan, including Hyderabad, Karachi, Kalat, Lahore, Swat, Mardan, Waziristan and Peshawar were part of the medal-winning team.

The 12-member team, including seven boys and five girls, started working as a group when they gathered for the summer camp in Peshawar, where they attended a one-month course on synthetic biology as well as an introductory refresher to molecular biology. The aim of the meet-up was to familiarize them with the synthetic biology using which, they had to come up with a solution for the prevailing environmental issues in Pakistan.

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iGEM started as a course way back in 2003 in MIT during the university’s Independent Activities Period (IAP), which later took the shape of a summer competition in 2004, with 5 participating teams. The number of teams have increased manifold with the most recent competition attracting 280 teams including 5018 students from around the world. This year it was the Giant Jamboree where the iGEM teams gathered to showcase their synthetic biology projects.

The aim of the competition is to encourage students from around the world to develop environment-friendly solutions using synthetic and molecular biology. Pakistani team managed to impress the jury with their project – a biosensor for detection of harmful gasses in the air. The team chose to counter air pollution by designing a sensor which could help reveal which vehicles are emitting Nitrous Oxide: shown in blue, and Carbon Monoxide: shown in yellow. the presence of both these gasses would be identified if the sensor gives a green color.

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The genius young minds assembled a system based on a bacterial cell and synthetic DNA to identify harmful gasses in the atmosphere. There were a total of 131 judges who evaluated the projects. Team supervisor, Dr. Faisal Khan spoke about the introduction of synthetic biology in Pakistan:

We cannot be playing with Windows95 in an age of Android and iOS and we desperately needed this upgrade in life sciences in the country.

A student at iGEM, Kwankwan Zhu spoke about the significance of the competition, saying:

iGEM is no competition like any other one. It’s not about competing against other teams to get the first prize. It’s about bringing together all the creativity and hard work that students from all over the world have put into their project. It’s about sharing ideas, whether they’re big or small, and the fascination we have for synthetic biology.