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Three-minute victory: Counseling and student development doctoral student tops 3MT competition

Friday, March 2, 2018


MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University graduate student's ability to explain his research about prospective engineering students and first-year retention to the public in a relatable way is earning him a chance to discuss his research on a national stage.

Dave Hoffman, doctoral student in counseling and student development from Lenexa, won first place at Kansas State University's Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition finals for his presentation "Purple Stride: Prospective Engineering Students and First-Year Retention." The final competition was Feb. 27 and featured Hoffman and seven other finalists, who were selected following the first round of the competition Feb. 13, which featured close to 40 graduate students.

For the finals, the graduate students had to explain their research three minutes or less. Along with the time limit, finalists had to make their presentations from memory — no notes allowed — and could use just one slide in front of an audience of Manhattan community members and Kansas State University faculty and students. Judges for the event were Gene Taylor, the university's athletic director; Jackie McClaskey, Kansas secretary of agriculture; and Brad Everett, manager of Hilton Garden Inn.

As the first-place winner, Hoffman received a $500 scholarship. Hoffman's major professor is Christy Craft, associate professor of special education, counseling and student affairs. He also goes on to represent Kansas State University in the 2018 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Three Minute Thesis Competition, April 4-6, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Hoffman believes his experience in the Three Minute Thesis Competition will help with his goal of developing a program that encourages students from underrepresented populations to pursue and graduate with degrees in engineering.

"By practicing a more concise and coherent version of my research proposal in front of groups both large and small, I feel more prepared to give similar presentations to legislators, lawmakers, company executives, and potential benefactors that could all positively shape a program of this undertaking," Hoffman said. "Should the opportunity present itself, I know that my participation in the Three Minute Thesis competition will have significantly impacted my educational and professional aspirations."

Tennecia Dacass, doctoral student in economics, Jamaica, won second place and $250 for her research presentation on "Intergenerational Effects of Mass Incarceration.” She also earned a $125 scholarship as the People's Choice winner, which was selected by the audience. Her major professor is William Blankenau, professor and head of economics department.

"I decided to participate in the competition because I knew it would provide me an outlet to share my research in a nonacademic manner," Dacass said. "I wanted to challenge myself to convey what I have been working on in a simplified manner and I knew that was one of the main goals of the 3MT competition."

Aside from being able to effectively communicate the significance of their research in three minutes or less, the competition was a way show the importance of being able to communicate well with people outside of the participants' disciplines. Studies also show a growing trend for employees to be able to communicate highly complex information in a way that can be understood by anyone. The Three Minute Thesis competition gives the graduate students the experience to do that.

Along with Hoffman and Dacass, the competition also featured the following finalists:

Rachel Wilkins, master's student in entomology, Overland Park; Sam Sharpe, doctoral student in biology, Rafael, California;Catherine Steele, doctoral student in psychology, Katy, Texas;Gabriela Magossi, master's student in food science, and Vinicius Perin, master's student in agronomy, both from Brazil; and Nethali Fernando, doctoral student in mathematics, Sri Lanka.

The Three Minute Thesis is an academic competition first developed by the University of Queensland of Australia. Competitions are now conducted at more than 600 universities in 65 countries.

News tip

Lenexa and Overland Park, Kansas; Rafael, California; and Katy, Texas.


Three Minute Thesis Competition

Written by

Kelsey Peterson