Just before midnight Saturday, one day before the final presentation, the project came to a dead stop.
The following Monday, the student aerospace engineering team was scheduled to perform a live test of their prototype land exploration rover to a high-profile client. But the microcontroller—the circuit board that commands the rover—was fried.
When this year’s iGEM team at the University of Colorado Boulder began meeting early this year, they wanted to take what they knew about biology, and use it to build something entirely new. iGEM, or International Genetically Engineered Machine, is the top synthetic biology competition in the world and after a foundation-building first year, the CU-Boulder team wanted to make an impact in 2013.
The landscape of Denver’s Westwood neighborhood is changing. Squash, tomatoes, chiles, spinach and melons are sprouting up in backyards. Family members are tending to their gardens and harvesting their own fresh food. And community members are working side-by-side to help transform their neighborhood from its designation as a “food desert”—the United States Department of Agriculture’s term to classify densely populated, low-income areas that lack easy access to healthy food—to a model of urban sustainability.