Home team steals SensUs show11 September 2017
The T.E.S.T. team from Eindhoven has emerged as the clear winner of the SensUs competition that took place last week Friday and Saturday at TU/e. The home team won three of the four categories: analytical performance, translational potential and public inspiration. Only the award for creativity went to the Swedish team Uppsense.
SensUs, organized by students of the TU/e Honors Academy, was being held for the second time. The aim of this year's competition was to develop a biosensor capable of signaling imminent heart failure. Used in the blood, the biosensor had to pick up the presence of what is known as a biomarker, in this case NT-proBNP, a protein.
The approach chosen by TU/e team T.E.S.T. was to cause magnetically sensitive globules to attach to the biomarker, which a laser subsequently made visible. Among all the sensors, this method proved to work best, and the partly international jury was evidently impressed by its applicability in clinical practice.
As a bonus, the home team also received the most votes from the public, enough to secure the Public Inspiration Award. The creativity award was won by the team from Sweden's Uppsala - which incidentally also used magnetic globules.
Each of the ten student teams, from nine different countries, was allocated two places in the Auditorium's hall on Friday afternoon. Ranged along one side the participants stood ready to explain to visitors how their homemade sensor worked. Across from them, their sensors were put through genuine tests. Test tubes containing human blood plasma were on hand in the refrigerator.
Eighteen times the teams were required to measure the concentration of the biomarker with their homemade sensors, a task they were given first fifteen, then ten, and finally five minutes to complete. The results - in the form of correlation scatter plots and graphs showing used sample volumes - were broadcast immediately on monitors.
Meanwhile the teams also delivered two different pitches: one about the details of the technique used (the technical pitch), and one in which the practical applicability of the method was illuminated (the translational pitch). These too were recorded, and were available for viewing almost immediately on the website.
This was all part of SensUs Digital - an ambitious attempt to broadcast the event live for the benefit of those keen to watch worldwide. The organizing SensUs team (not to be confused with the participating T.E.S.T. team) had engaged a group of Software Science students to build a digital platform for the event. This served, among other things, as the forum where questions could be put to the teams. The platform was intended to host no fewer than fifteen live streams, fed in part by webcams and in part by professional camera work.
As it happened, only some of these fifteen live streams were actually online on Friday afternoon. Similarly, the sound was sometimes intermittent, as if there was too little band width to broadcast all the streams.
Nonetheless Willem Brekelmans of the team that set up SensUs Digital is satisfied with how things went. "We will be looking into what caused the problems. In addition, some of the teams didn't really pay any attention to the webcams, and at the last minute we had to set up links to YouTube Google wouldn't allow us to 'embed' certain streams."
But this was a trial, Brekelmans points out, and so teething problems are only to be expected. "During the event we had some three thousand visitors from no fewer than seventy-four countries. Isn't that fantastic? It has encouraged us to consider where else we can use this system. At the RoboCup, for example."
The quality of education seems to have slipped at TU/e. In the latest Dutch-language guide to universities (Keuzegids Universiteiten), Eindhoven's university has dropped from third place in the overall ranking to seventh place in the course of a year. "It's understandable but it's not good," says President of the Executive Board Jan Mengelers, "and it is all the more reason to push on with introducing an upper limit on student intake to our programs. This is a result of the strong growth in student numbers."
Before you google yet another one of my invented diseases and subsequently begin to question the title of this story, let me tell you this. With a new academic year having begun and a shiny new batch of freshmen accompanying it, the university is full of people suffering from the so-called octopus syndrome.
Today TU/e becomes the first university to see one of its associate professors confer a doctoral degree. In fact, there will be two associate professors doing that today. Other universities will follow.
Bus line 104 is proving insufficiently profitable. From December 10 the service will no longer ride over the campus. This has recently been decided by TU/e and the Eindhoven Region Collaborative Alliance (Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven). The number of employees using the service has been particularly disappointing. The following bus stops will be discontinued: Laplace Square (opposite the Traverse building), De Lismortel (at the corner of Fontys PABO and the Paviljoen), De Rondom across from Differ, and De Rondom Zuid (at the corner of BBC and Echo).