University of Calgary



U of C iGEM team wins provincial competition
With smiling faces and heightened team pride, the U of C brought home the aGEM trophy after placing first in the Alberta Genetically Engineered Machines (aGEM) competition, which was held in Banff from September 18th -19th. aGEM is the Alberta Genetically Engineered Machines Competition. aGEM facilitates a sense of regional spirit and gives students a chance to compete and critique each other’s work as the three Albertan teams (U of C, U of A, and U of L) prepare for the iGEM Jamboree in the fall.

The University of Calgary team members drove down to Banff on the 18th- the night of the aGEM wiki and poster presentations. The students arrived early to set up the poster, prepare handouts (lab, modeling, Second Life and human practices) and set up iMacs to present their wiki and facilitate tours of our 3D virtual world in Second Life. The team distributed and organized themselves around each station so that there was always someone there to explain the project and address questions.

This was great opportunity for all of the team members to practice presentational skills, demonstrate a cohesive understanding of the four components of the project, learn about the other projects and of course, impress the judges! Our audiences were from various backgrounds and professions beginning from entrepreneurs to analysts, biologists, engineers, professors and students. The high level of energy and enthusiasm of the U of C students quickly engaged the audience and drew more and more people to our booth. As team members explained each of the four components of the project, handouts were given out as a supplementary document to those interested in learning more about the successes, goals and achievements of iGEM Calgary’s project.

Later that night, after wrapping up the poster session, the team went back to the hotel to practice for the next day’s PowerPoint presentation. This presentation delves deeper into each of the four components and explains the science behind the project.

On Saturday, by a random draw, the University of Calgary was chosen to lead the PowerPoint presentations. Following the presentation, the entire team went up on the stage to answer questions from the audience. After the three teams had the opportunity to showcase their projects and answer questions, the judges briefly provided general constructive criticisms to all three teams. After lunch, the audience reconvened in the theatre to honor Mr. Jon Lovink, the guest speaker of the event. After his motivational speech, the judges divided themselves among the three teams to individually comment on specific areas of improvement and achievements.

Following another brief break, the awards ceremony was held back at the theatre. Nervousness and anxiety filled the room as each person awaited to hear the results. After the judges reviewed the judging criteria, the University of Calgary was awarded first place for an excellent overall presentation and teamwork. The judges were highly impressed with the amount of effort that was put into making a creative and informative wiki, well-organized handouts and a powerful presentation. A picture session with the aGEM trophy and other aGEM participants immediately followed the ceremony.

After dinner, the teams rejoiced and celebrated their hard work and successes. Although the U of C iGEM team proudly made its mark in Alberta, the race doesn’t end here; the team is now working twice as hard to make U of C stand out at the iGEM Jamboree.