2018 Three Minute Thesis

by rebecca nagy

The Three Minute Thesis is an annual competition held at universities worldwide. It challenges graduate students to explain their thesis in three minutes or less using one static slide. Last year, BAE held its own version of the event – but with a twist. Faculty were placed on the hot seat and challenged to explain their research in three minutes or less for BAE’s Second Annual Three Minute Research presentation.

“Each 3MT acts as a conversation starter,” notes Natalie Nelson, who came in first place in this year’s competition. “Since the event, I’ve found myself following up with colleagues in the halls, wanting to learn more about the projects they presented.”

Nelson, an assistant professor in data analytics, presented on a new project that just started this past month, so she had to stick to the big picture instead of getting into the nitty gritty of her results. She spent her three minutes giving a brief talk on a National Science Foundation funded project to investigate harmful algal blooms in Florida and their potential connection to water management practices.

“I decided to participate in the faculty 3MT because it led me to think about a specific research project in the simplest possible terms,” notes Jason Ward, assistant professor in digital agriculture, 2nd place winner overall and winner of the popular vote. “3MT makes you distill a project to its most important and most easily communicated points – which is the real value of the competition.  My strategy was to not prepare specific remarks or a script – I wanted it to feel conversational and immediate without being rehearsed.  I had a couple bullet points I wanted to hit but let the story tell itself.”

Ward’s presentation focused on a recent project to assess crop damage – such as the damage caused by Hurricane Florence – using UAV imagery.

The event was organized by the BAE Graduate Student Association and the NC State ASABE student group.

Voting was conducted by a panel of undergraduate and graduate students.