Engage with graduate student research in Graduate School's first Three Minute Thesis Competition
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016
Three Minute Thesis competitions, like this one at the University of Queensland, Australia, provide graduate students the opportunity to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance. Kansas State University's first Three Minute Thesis Competition will be Feb. 16-17. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Many theses and dissertations can be more than 80,000 words and take hours to present, but graduate students in a first-time competition at Kansas State University have just three minutes and one slide to convey their often highly-technical research to a lay audience.
In partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Research, the university's Graduate School will host its first Three Minute Thesis Competition, or 3MT, Feb. 16 and 17.
Thirty-eight graduate students will compete in the preliminary rounds of the competition from 2:45-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Leadership Studies Building. Twelve students will advance to the final competition at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Fiedler Auditorium.
Both the preliminary heats and the final competition are open to the campus and general public.
The 3MT competition began in 2008 at the University of Queensland, Australia, and has since spread to at least 170 universities in 17 countries around the world. The challenge of 3MT is to encourage graduate students to hone their science communication skills by learning to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance.
Other institutions in the United States have participated in the Three Minute Thesis Competition understand the importance it has not only on its students, but on its community as well.
"Oklahoma State University uses our 3MT presenters to represent the diversity and value of graduate education to our constituents and community," said Ken Clinkenbeard, associate dean of the Graduate College at the university. "Our students learn how to speak concisely, be understandable and be engaging to public audiences, which is the best representation of the value of graduate education and the benefit to the public."
The University of Minnesota's 2015 3MT winner, Sakeen Kashem, doctoral student in medical science, appreciated the opportunity to improve his presentation and communication skills.
"The 3MT removes the crutches of complicated graphs, data, animation and multiple slides and allows you to really focus on the fundamentals, as to serve as a building block for a regular scientific presentation," Kashem said. "When I give talks now, I try to apply what I learned from the 3MT by making the tough concepts and complex data more approachable to the audience with the aid of key words and diagrams."
The top two presenters will be awarded a scholarship, with the first-place winner receiving a $500 scholarship and serving as K-State's representative at the MAGS 3MT®competition April 6-8 in Chicago. Second place will be awarded a $250 scholarship. The audience will participate by voting for the People's choice winner, who receives a $125 scholarship.
Dave Lewis, announcer for K-State football and men’s basketball games, will emcee the final competition, with three Manhattan residents serving as judges: Mary Vanier, a1989 K-State alumna and president of Grand Mere Development Inc.; state Rep. Sydney Carlin, a 2000 K-State alumna; and Mike Dibbini, K-State women's soccer head coach.
Judging criteria is centered on three core competencies:
• Communication style: Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience?
• Comprehension: Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
• Engagement: Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
"The 3 Minute Thesis Competition will provide Manhattan and the K-State community with an entertaining way to learn about the diversity of the type of research and scholarly engagement begin conducted by K-State graduate students," said Carol Shanklin, dean of the K-State Graduate School. "I encourage the K-State and Manhattan community to take advantage of this opportunity and support our inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition."
The 3MT is just one way the Graduate School looks to challenge graduate students to effectively communicate their research. The school also hosts research forums in the fall and spring semesters, which provide graduate students a time to practice presenting their research to a broad group of people.
Any questions about K-State's Three Minute Thesis Competition can be directed to Megan Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org, the Graduate School's student services coordinator.