Despite working on very different projects, our iGEM team was able to meaningfully collaborate with MIT’s team. Having first met at their campus in June, we talked over initial project ideas and iGEM deliverables. As our project was aimed at creating hardware and software that is easy to use, talking with their team gave us insight on how to optimize our product for users and increase modularity. Accessibility was one key point; having access to electronics and pumps was something they mentioned would be helpful should they use the product. After seeing our designs for a final product, they raised questions on disasembling the product for maintenance and upgrades. It was from this meeting we changed our design for aluminum connections halfway across our housing so that the product could be dissassmbled with ease. Our team then hosted MIT in August to return the favor and get a chance to update each other on the progress of our work. At this meeting we focused more on iGEM deliverables like the Wiki. Talking with their team helped us break down the different iGEM requirements and organize our wiki into different sections. We shared the ideas our team had come up with so far when exploring wiki pages, and the start of our progress with one another. Because members from both teams had minimal background experience in front end development, it was a great opportunity to talk with each other and headstart our work. In addition, each team had at this point practiced presenting their project to some extent, so we took the opportunity to further practice this skill in a different environment. Our team presented the problem we were addressing along with our solution. This was a rewarding experience because questions they asked after the presentation gave us insight on where our presentation lacked. Some of the questions they raised were:
- What biosensors are your team working with?
- How portable is your system - what are the dimensions and how much does it weigh?
What we learned from this presentation and Q/A session was that while we did the work, we failed to portray certain parts of it when presenting. The first question of biosensors was especially interesting because the purpose of our project was to further the field of synthetic biology. Even though we made our project based on biosensors, we didn't make it clear what we work we did with biosensors in our presentation. This was something we kept in mind and improved in later presentations.
After presenting, we also got the opportunity to give them a tour of our lab space. While this wasn't focused on our project itself, it was a great way to talk with their team and share our work place. MIT is right across the Charles River for us yet we don't get this opportunity to collaborate on project often. Having them in our lab, sharing our safety regulations, showing them around were all things that gave made the whole experience more meaningful.
Being able to share our project and work environment was very exciting. It was great to meet and collaborate with an iGEM team so close to our campus. We definitely look forward to keeping this connection alive on future iGEM projects.