Present Around the World (PATW) is an annual engineering speech competition held by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Students from around the world present technical talks on emerging technologies. There are three levels of competition: locals, regionals, and worlds. To get to the regional level you must be in the top 2 from the local level, whereas to get to the worlds you must come first in at the regional level. The local level for our area included the prairie provinces of Canada, while the regional level included both North and South America.
Two of our team members, Stephen and Emily, competed at the local level this year. Each presented on synthetic biology topics. Stephen presented on the synthetic organism Mycobacterium laboratorium, while Emily presented on biobricks and our 2011 iGEM project. This was a great opportunity to expose more people to synthetic biology, and many interesting questions were generated. The judges and audience were quite interested about our project and Emily won the competition, moving on to the Americas finals.
One trip to Boston for the regionals later and Emily advanced to the world finals in London, England! This was held in Boston in early September, where she presented to an even larger audience including many professional engineers and scientists. The topic was again met with lots of enthusiasm, and people were very interested about the project and the field of synthetic biology in general.
This was a tremendous opportunity to talk to more people about synthetic biology. Lots of questions were asked about the safety and ethical issues pertaining to our project. Audience members and judges felt that synthetic biology sounded risky, but still very promising. The competition held in London should be quite large, which should provide even more exposure for our project. Stay tuned for updates on how she does in England.