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Pupin’s Challenge at SynBio in Timisoara

By 15.03.2024March 24th, 2024Events, News, Press, Pupin's Challenge

Pupin’s Challenge at SynBio in Timisoara. At the recently held (8.3.-10.3.2024.) SynBio Hackathon in Timisoara, talented students and high schoolers from Serbia stood out with their ideas and engagement.

Pupin's Challenge at SynBio in Timisoara

Most of the competing team during break time

Thanks to our dear partners who organized it, participants from the Pupin’s Challenge were present: students from the Regional Talent Center in Pančevo, the Electrotechnical School in Pančevo, the First Belgrade Gymnasium, and students from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade. A real opportunity to showcase their talents to an international audience!

It was the first large-scale event of this type organized in Romania, organized by Radu Ticiu, program coordinator at the ONE SOURCE Association and BIOCORDER DOJO Timisoara in the field of synthetic biology. After involvement in IGEM finals in Paris, this hackathon was held in accordance with iGEM standards and practices in Timisoara.

IGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) is an international synthetic biology competition where multidisciplinary teams of students design, build, and present genetically engineered systems to address real-world challenges.

“Synthetic biology is an emerging field of bioengineering that utilizes concepts and information from a variety of research areas, such as genetics, biophysics, microbiology or molecular biology, to develop methods and tools to engineer and repurpose natural biological systems for applications in biomedicine and biotechnology.”- definition by the specialists of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

SynBio brought together about 60 high school students and students from 5 countries (Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Tanzania, Ukraine), and several universities: The University of Life Sciences “King Michael I” in Timisoara, West University of Timisoara, University of Bucharest USAMV Cluj-Napoca (Bioinformatics) and University of Belgrade.

All of them have been intensely involved for a long time three days, exploring new science and technology for most of them, through a complex program, which included participation in online and offline presentations.

One of the advantages of this hackathon was the visit to the advanced laboratories of the University of Life Sciences “King Michael I”, led by knowledgeable teachers, contributed to the development of competitive projects, showcasing the university’s commitment to education, research, and entrepreneurship, while visits to OncoGen Timisoara highlighted its dedication to impactful projects.

Pupin's Challenge at SynBio in Timisoara

The team is familiarising with the lab equipment

Some of the participants expresed their thoughts on the competition. Maksim Despotović, Pupin’s Challenge junior mentor and student at the Electrotechnical faculty in Belgrade: “We entered the competition quite unsure and honestly didn’t know what to expect. The journey to Timisoara was an adventure. In the end, everything turned out great, and I got the impression that everyone was satisfied with the results.”, team leads from Center from talents twin brothers Andrej and Uroš Popović said : „”The experience was unforgettable; I met many talented individuals. It didn’t feel like I was competing against others, but rather that everyone was sharing their ideas and showcasing their knowledge. Our topic was more focused on electronics/software, while most others leaned towards pure biology… The competition was very interesting. The collaborators and professors at the university were very friendly and always willing to listen to our ideas.”

Pupin's Challenge at SynBio in Timisoara

Adventure and a thirst for knowledge characterize junior mentors.

All of them expresed desire to come again and to participate in this type of event.

On the last day of the event, nine teams presented their projects that were evaluated in two competitions: local and global.

A special prize was offered to the Serbian delegation (Andrej Popović, Despot Maksimovic, Ćarko Hajder, Stefan Mizdrak, Stefan Sofronijević, Marko Ćulibrk , Filip Pjević, Uros Popović), the team with the highest participation of high school students.

After the event, the general consensus is that there is significant interest among participants and the public in the field of synthetic biology, a desire to connect with global trends, communities, and active personalities worldwide. This event represents a significant step towards the development of the local synbio ecosystem in Romania and regionally serves as a catalyst for future similar events in Serbia.