University of Iowa engineering students are rewriting the script that one can be an excellent engineer and an excellent communicator.
The Graduate College holds a university-wide three-minute thesis (3MT) competition for graduate students to communicate complex research clearly and concisely to a non-specialist audience in no more than 180 seconds.
When David Ramotowski, a PhD candidate in civil and environmental engineering, won the competition this fall for his topic, “Unlikely Heroes: Keeping Toxic PCBs Out of Our Air with Bacteria and Biochar,” it was the fourth consecutive victory by a College of Engineering student.
Engineering students have also won other top awards in the competition, including honorable mention (runner-up) and people’s choice award. Recent recognition includes:
2022: Winner – Riley Post, CEE; Honorable Mention – Winter Philibert, BME.
2021: Winner and People’s Choice – Emily Schmitz, CEE; Honorable Mentions – Matthew Nagorzanski, CEE and Parham Parnian, CBE.
2020: Winner – Moala Bannavti, CEE; People’s Choice – Marian El-Hattab, BME
Hundreds of universities worldwide have embraced the 3MT competition format to enhance “presentation, research and academic communication skills, and support the development of research students' capacity to explain their work effectively.”
The exercise helps students gain experience effectively explaining their research while avoiding overwhelming the listener with jargon, advanced terminology, and too much technical detail.
The University of Queensland, Australia, is credited with launching the 3MT format in 2008