George Mason University- Engineering Youth Conference
Would you want to painstakingly translate lines of DNA into mRNA and protein? How about search through a block of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs to find the number of times a specific sequence appears in a segment of DNA? Well, that’s exactly what attendees at the Engineering Youth Conference at George Mason University did, along the way learning about the intersection of computer science, biology, and engineering. GirlsComputingLeague had the honor of hosting a workshop and the opportunity to present and mentor over 30 middle school students from across Northern Virginia.
Our purpose in hosting the workshop was to demonstrate the bioinformatics is necessary– with the advancements in whole-genome sequencing, gathering proteomic data, and acquiring pathology images, there needs to be a way to analyze the large amounts of data to pick out the relevant information. The field combines the two fastest growing scientific disciplines: biology and computer science, while mixing in engineering concepts.
But we didn’t just want the fields of bioengineering, bioinformatics, and computational biology to be far-off concepts. We wanted students to create ideas for solutions in the field on their own, which is why we spent half of the workshop time developing a bioengineering-based futuristic project idea. We assembled a team of high school volunteers to help make the conference session individualized for every participant. The middle school students produced amazing results, from proposing nanobots that would release chemicals to increase efficiency to a new alternative fuel source for cars powered by bacteria.
Our presentation documents can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/WorldOfBioinfo. The slideshow below contains images from the workshop, as well as some of the attendee’s final presentations.