This week’s Engineering Student Council meeting featured acronyms ranging from the familiar SEAS and PDF to the less known iGEM.

It’s been a while since ESC has heard from an outside presenter during a general body meeting. This week’s meeting began with a presentation from Jacob Rosenfeld (SEAS ‘23), who is a founding member of the Systems Biology Initiative’s iGEM Committee.

Rosenfeld explained that iGEM, which stands for the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, is an international competition where teams compete to create synthetic biological systems to address a variety of current issues. Team members work together to research an issue and develop a solution over the course of the spring semester and the summer. Teams then gather at the Giant Jamboree to present their projects. 2021’s Giant Jamboree is tentatively scheduled for November in Paris, though it may be moved online due to the pandemic.

Columbia had an iGEM team from 2016 through 2019, but due to financial constraints, Columbia did not send a team to iGEM’s 2020 Giant Jamboree. Rosenfeld approached ESC to ask for support and funding for a 2021 iGEM team. He noted the benefits of having a team, ranging from inter-school collaboration and the advancement of systems biology and also explained that some students have been hoping to participate in iGEM since first learning of its existence.

Student Body President Estevan Mesa (‘22) let Rosenfeld know that the council would be in touch with the iGEM committee in the future regarding support. He also suggested that iGEM be a topic at the JCCC, a joint committee of all four of Columbia’s student council. Since iGEM could involve students from all four schools, perhaps several schools or councils could provide some funding if iGEM is discussed at the JCCC.

After wrapping up the discussion of iGEM for the day, the council heard an update from Technology Representative Vish Rao (‘23) about the proposed amendment which would add the SEAS Peer Mentorship Program to the ESC bylaws. Since last week, the communications committee added a footnote to the amendment that would allow for more flexibility in the Professional Development Representative’s involvement in the program. 

Mesa shared a Google Form with the council where members can vote on whether to approve this amendment. Though members were encouraged to vote during the general body meeting, the form will stay open for longer to allow council members in other time zones an opportunity to vote.

Next, Mesa discussed the news of CC and GS extending their PDF policies to this semester. He hopes that their policies will help expedite the process of approving a SEAS PDF policy for this semester. The SEAS Committee on Instruction (COI) had previously informed Mesa that they wanted to wait until later in the semester to approve a policy for SEAS. SEAS’ COI has not met in several week due to weather cancellations, but Mesa hopes to discuss a SEAS PDF policy at this Wednesday’s COI meeting.

ESC is also hoping to host an event such as a SEAS Gala with Dean Boyce before she transitions to her new role as provost.

Lerner via Bwog Archives