How much time would you need to explain your dissertation, from the painstakingly crafted proposal to collected data, findings, and conclusion? According to the University of Queensland, an 80,000-word thesis requires about nine hours to present.
Master’s and doctoral students from The Ohio State University who took the stage May 8 during the opening of 2018 OSU Materials Week, however, were not given a second past the three-minute mark.
The Institute for Materials Research (IMR) kicked off its 10th annual Materials Week conference with a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, founded and registered by UQ in Australia.
No props. No elaborate electronic media assistance. No dumbing it down. Presenters were allowed just one static slide to accompany their orations.
The 3MT competition challenges students to effectively communicate a distilled, compelling thesis and its significance to an audience outside their specific scholarly focus.
Five Ohio State students were chosen to compete May 8 in front of hundreds of professors and researchers from across the country and within the university after being selected from a preliminary round of presentations, held a week prior.
3MT finalists’ backgrounds ranged from Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering to Physics.
Brelon May won top prize for his clear and compelling 3MT thesis, “Flexible Ultraviolet LEDs on Metal.“ May studies in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) with advisor Professor Roberto Myers.
May honed his communication skills during his graduate work at Ohio State. As an engineer, he said, the ability to translate one’s work from lab to layperson is integral, especially when seeking funding opportunities.
“You are going to have to communicate your work to someone who has money, and the person who has that money typically isn’t an engineer. So, being able to communicate your work, at that basic level, is very important,” May said. That’s why I like the idea of the Three Minute Thesis. You have to be short, because even engineers don’t have attention spans that are that long. This was very different than the normal communication skills that I have learned from other conferences.”
May’s ability to effectively communicate helped UV Concepts explain in simple, straightforward terms their collaborative work on the integration of metal foils.
Aamena Parulkar was named 3MT Runner Up for her thesis, “Enhancing Hydrophobicity of Catalysts.” Parulkar studies in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with advisor Professor Nicholas Brunelli.
Xianjie (Tony) Ren was awarded the 3MT People’s Choice Award for his thesis, “Durability of eggshell and silica filled guayule natural rubber composites.” Ren studies in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering with advisor Professor Katrina Cornish.
3MT finalist Alejandro Alvarez, in Materials Science and Engineering, presented “Joining of Internally Clad X65 Pipes using Low Alloy Steel Filler Metals.”
3MT finalist Thuc Mai, in Physics, presented “Magnets, Light, and Technology.“
Last year, alumnus Matt Souva won first place for his 3MT presentation, “High Throughput Block Copolymer Nanoparticle Assembly Methods and Morphologies.” He said distilling his research for a general audience was good practice toward finishing graduate school.
“That kind of thinking wasn’t an everyday thing for me, and it couldn’t have come at a better time: I was close to finishing my dissertation and starting my job search. The fall engineering career fair and subsequent interviews were great places to use my newest communication skill,” he said. “My 3MT talk was easy to adapt and use as a baseline explanation of my research. Practicing that kind of general-language approach made something very specific seem manageable to newcomers.”
The Institute for Materials Research is an interdisciplinary institute that works across colleges and departments at The Ohio State University to facilitate, promote and coordinate research and infrastructure related to the science and engineering of materials.
Story by Mike Huson, IMR Public Relations Coordinator