Northern Michigan University Graduate Studies and Research will present its fourth annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition virtually at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15.
During the competition, NMU’s graduate students and McNair scholars will present their research in only three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Each candidate is limited to one static PowerPoint slide to aid in the presentation of their original research.
“When you have to keep cutting material to make the presentation shorter, you have to look at the big picture and pare down parts that are not critical to the main theme,” said Coordinator of Graduate Student and Research Affairs Janelle Taylor. “Compelling research is research that has a unified theme. 3MT encourages students to focus on that theme.
“The enforced brevity also helps students communicate their research to others. The format is similar to an ‘elevator pitch’. The idea of an elevator pitch is that if you find yourself in an elevator with the president or CEO of a company, what would you say to them in the time it takes to get to your floor? 3MT is like a research elevator pitch. When students interview for PhD programs or jobs or apply for grants, they need to be ready to explain their research and make it engaging to their audience in a short period of time.”
Each year, approximately 10-15 students compete in the local competition. The NMU graduate winner will compete at the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools competition. About 900 universities in 85 different countries participate in 3MT.
“NMU has important things to offer the research community, and our students deserve the chance to talk about their research on the elevated stage that this competition provides,” said Taylor. “3MT is known and respected around the world, and we think that NMU has world-class researchers, so it’s a good fit.”
Winners of the NMU 3MT competition will be decided by a panel of judges consisting of local community members and the wider research community. Audience members can vote for their favorite presentation in the People’s Choice award category.
“Like everything since last March, virtual 3MT is a learning experience,” said Taylor. “In some ways, it opens up new opportunities. Since the competition will be virtual this year, we are able to have a guest judge from the University of Louisville. It will also be easier for participants’ family members and friends as well as community members to watch the students compete.”
3MT was developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008. The idea for the competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the UQ Graduate School put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born.
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