On February 27th, Mechanical Engineering graduate students honed their communication rather than their technical skills by competing in the inaugural Department Three Minute Thesis heat. The Three Minute Thesis challenges them to distill their entire thesis into a three-minute presentation that communicates both what their research is and why it matters. Started by the University of Queensland, Australia in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (or 3MT) is now practiced by universities all over the world, and has been running at UBC since 2011.
Departments across campus host “heats,” which are the first level of the competition for participating students. Winners of the departmental heats go on to compete in the UBC Semi-Final, and then the UBC 3MT Final decides who will represent the university at the Western Canadian Regional Final.
Besides having only three minutes (going over time can garner penalties), presenters are limited to one slide, and no animations, sound, media, props, or other gimmicks are allowed. This ensures that graduate students are working on their presentation and speaking skills alone. Effective communication is an essential skill for an engineer – a “soft skill” that will allow engineers to effectively work in teams, do project management, compete for funding, and a host of other job and research tasks that call for them to articulate their work.
At the Mechanical Engineering heat, presentations were judged by a panel of three department faculty members; Professor Lyndia Wu, Associate Professor Ryozo Nagamune, and Lecturer Adrianna Eyking brought expertise from biomedical engineering, mechatronics and manufacturing, and technical communication to their deliberations.
MECH Winning Presentations:
- First Place: Calvin Qiao, PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Investigating Vestibular Changes After Subconcussive Head Impacts, Dr. Lyndia Wu
- Second Place: Conan Omori, MASc in Mechanical Engineering, Finding Knots in Logs with X-ray Vision, Dr. Gary Schajer
- Runner Up: Cidnee Luu, MASc in Biomedical Engineering, Wearable Sensors to Study Head Impacts in Ice Hockey, Dr. Lyndia Wu and Dr. Mike Van der Loos
- People’s Choice: Conan Omori
At the 3MT Semi-Finals and Final Competition
As the first and second place winners, Calvin Qiao and Conan Omori advanced to the UBC Semi-Finals on March 10th. Twenty-one students competed in two rounds at Thea’s Lounge, in front of a judging panel made up of faculty from across campus. Competitors included master’s and doctorate level students from disciplines that ranged from Physics and Astronomy to Genome Science and Technology, including a strong APSC showing with participants from Civil Engineering, the School of Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, in addition to Mechanical Engineering.
Despite stiff competition, Conan Omori was one of only eight students (and the only master’s-level student) who advanced to the UBC Three Minute Thesis Final at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre on March 12th. The group included just one other APSC competitor, Laura Stankiewicz, PhD in Biomedical Engineering. In the end, Stankiewicz took second place, while the first-place winner was Dennis Riley Louie, PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, who will represent UBC at the Western Canadian Final.
Congratulations to Conan for advancing to the UBC Final, to our heat winners, and to all our participants for being a part of MECH’s first departmental heat! We look forward to seeing you at next year’s competition!