Sheffield students win gold in America with real-world project

  • Students from the faculties of Engineering and Science at the University of Sheffield have won gold at the iGEM competition which encourages students to design a solution to a real-world problem
  • Sheffield students were awarded gold for achieving top marks at the international competition in America with their project which examines bacterial growth

iGEM award winning team

Students from the University of Sheffield have won gold at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) in Boston after their project, a plate reader which measures bacterial growth, impressed judges.

The iGEM competition is an international competition in which over 300 teams from across the globe compete to solve a real-world programme using synthetic biology, engineering and entrepreneurship. Teams are comprised of talented students from across the world, led by PhD supervisors and academic advisors.

The Sheffield team was made up of eight students from the faculties of Engineering and Science, studying: Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Biomedical Science, Bioengineering, Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and Computer Sciences. Their project, a low cost plate reader created largely by a 3D printer, detects how many bacteria are within a solution by detecting the light that is able to pass through the bacterial suspension. The less light that passes through the solution the more bacterial growth there has been.

“Competing in this competition was hugely exciting for all involved and we are all proud and to delighted to have put science and engineering at the University of Sheffield on the map.”

Professor Robert Poole from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

The gold winning team came up with this effective yet low cost method of detecting bacterial growth after researching current plate reader technology. They found that measuring changes of optical density within a solution would be the best method of determining bacterial growth.

The award winning project was produced using technology such as 3D printing and LED lights to keep costs down with the plate costing just £100 to produce. Other lab plate readers can cost up to £10,000 to produce.

The team’s project could change the way bacteria are measured in the future, using much simpler and more cost effective methods. In order to make the project accessible for all, the team have made their instructions on how to build the device readily available on the internet so everyone will have access to an effective method of examining bacterial growth.

Professor Robert Poole from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology said: “All of us in the department at the University of Sheffield are delighted that our students have won gold at the iGEM competition in Boston. It’s fantastic to know that all of their incredible hard work paid off.

“Competing in this competition was hugely exciting for all involved and we are all proud and to delighted to have put science and engineering at the University of Sheffield on the map.”

The Faculty of Engineering has seen huge growth in the past four years and is home to 5,400 students and over 1,000 staff, making it one of the largest in the country. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 93 per cent of research was rated internationally excellent or world leading.
Read more about study engineering at the University of Sheffield

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Mary Hickey
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221034
m.o.hickey@sheffield.ac.uk