UK team meetings


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July 24th-25th, students and advisors from Imperial College, London, and from the University of Edinburgh visited their colleagues in Cambridge to meet each other, share experiences, and have a good time.

On the afternoon of the 24th, students proudly presented their progress to date and their goals for the future to their competitors, the faculty, and the ambassador, visiting from Zurich.

Boat Design Challenge

After the presentations, the teams participated in a "mystery design challenge". The students were randomly grouped into four teams of six (Yellow, Blue, Green and Red), given a bag of tools and goodies, and given 60 minutes to complete the task of constructing a device that could navigate across the river Cam. The boats were built from: insulating tape, clear adhesive plastic sheeting, AA batteries, 1.5-3V electric motors, plastic rotor, insulated wire, battery holder, connector leads, switch, 50ml plastic tubes, balsa wood, sheets of card, ice cream sticks, paper straws, lengths of cane, large paper clips and elastic bands.

all students (with their boats)
construction of the Yellow Manta Ray
proud presentation of the final construction

The boats were duly launched into the Millpond on the river, for the ultimate trial. Some eccentric behaviour was noticed on the maiden voyages of the iGEM craft. A number showed a marked tendency to travel in circles, and some adopted submarine modes of river traffic. After a few riverbank adjustments, the Yellow Team's craft showed a great turn of straightline speed, at least until its unfortunate demise under the bow of a passing punt. The Yellow team shared their prize of Scotch whiskey flavoured fudge (directly imported from Edinburgh) with the other teams, and the evening was capped by wine and food at a local Italian restaurant.

launching with great confidence...
...though sometimes disappointed
the audience is watching and discussing
the winner team enjoying their prize

Punting on the Cam

The next morning, the students from Edinburgh and the iGEM ambassador had the opportunity to get a tour on the river cam on three of the traditional punts. The visitors tested their skills on the aft of the boats, but, as Jerome K. Jerome noted 1889 in Three Men in a Boat: "Punting is not as easy as it looks". So some of the guests were glad they could rely on the professional local punters Kay and Nikhilesh and concentrate on taking in the stunning views of lovely Cambridge. After a failed bridge-climbing attempt and a lost pole, all visitors arrived safely back at port.

More Pictures of the event are available on

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