Sheffield students take gold at international engineering competition

Eight students from Sheffield University achieved a top award in a three-day synthetic biology competition in Boston.

More than 300 teams were challenged to solve real-world problems using synthetic biology, engineering and business knowledge, as part of the international iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition.

As part of the project, students used 3D printing and intelligent software to produce a low cost, open source plate reader, which could be used by future iGEM teams and less well funded labs. The total production cost came to £100, compared to a standard lab plate reader which can cost up to £10,000.

The device is able to send readings to a user’s computer, something which the team notes is not available in standard lab equipment.

Upon testing the device alongside a standard plate reader, measuring bacterial growth curves, it was a great success!

An important aspect of the iGEM competition is the application in the real world, so the team sought out lab experts for feedback, which was then integrated into the design. The device could also be applied outside of research, for instance it could be used as a teaching tool, or to help detect antimicrobial resistant bacteria in patient infections.

Check out the website produced to help win the project.