SOCORRO, N.M. March 7, 2012 – The inaugural Student Research Symposium is off to a flying start. More than 90 students – some in teams and some as individuals – have registered to offer 20 presentations and 27 posters.

“This is exciting,” said Dr. Mary Dezember, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and organizer of the Symposium. “I’m really impressed with the Tech community. Because this was our first Student Research Symposium, we didn’t know what to expect. The response is tremendous. The number of entries attests to the dedication and pride Techies have in their research and design projects.”

The 47 entries represent every academic department, with Mechanical Engineering and Biology leading the way with nine projects each, and Chemistry with eight.  Based on the disciplines of the research advisors or the students’ majors, other disciplines represented are Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Earth and Environmental Science, Physics, Computer Science and Engineering, Math, Materials Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mineral Engineering, Psychology, Information Technology, and Communication, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences.

Because of the large number of registrants, the event will use two rooms: Fidel Ballroom A & B for team presentations and Fidel Ballroom C for individual presentations.

The event will be all day Friday, April 13. The oral presentations are to be 15 minutes and will last all afternoon. The poster presentations will be from 9 a.m. to noon in the Fidel Ballroom A & B.

Dezember said the goals of the new event are to provide a student-centered event that will allow students to improve their communication skills and to expand their ability to present their research and design projects to audiences outside their disciplines – and to be understood.  Because students will be sharing their research projects with their peers, another goal of the event is to foster a greater sense of community, thus improving the connections among all Tech students.

The Writing Center and the Oral Presentation Center, both of which offer free advice and mentoring, have scheduled special workshops to coach student presenters. A poster workshop was in late February. An extended abstract writing workshop will be March 21 and an oral presentation workshop will be April 4. Each workshop is being recorded and posted online at the Symposium’s website.

In addition, some graduate students who have experience presenting at conferences have volunteers to serve as mentors to presenters. They are coaching presenters on any aspect of communicating their projects and will be in the Oral Presentation Center in the lower level of Fitch Hall. An informational session for the registrants’ research and design advisors and also for the mentors was held on Tuesday, March 6.  This session was also recorded and is posted on the Symposium website.

Volunteer reviewers will evaluate the extended abstracts and presentations. These evaluations will be to aid students in writing and presentation skills. The event is non-competitive; thus, the experience and the review process have been created to be educational, informative, supportive and enjoyable for participants. Dr. Steve Simpson, assistant professor of communication, is leading the review process.

Reviewers will be outside of the discipline of the project. Anyone interested in being a reviewer should visit the SRS website to complete the Reviewer Registration Form.

“This symposium will help students learn how to present research, but it will also give Techies a venue to see what sort of amazing research and design projects are happening in academic areas they might not be familiar with,” Dezember said.

Dezember said the impetus for the symposium germinated at a workshop hosted by the Higher Learning Commission in the spring of 2011. The Commission selected Tech to participate in a pilot project, in which the Commission tasked universities in good standing with the HLC to develop a plan to improve their campuses.

“As a group, we came up with an idea for this symposium,” Dezember said. “We think it’s a great fit for New Mexico Tech. What we’ve observed is that students form connections within their departments. We are hoping the symposium will foster a more campus-wide sense of community.”

Additional information about the Student Research Symposium can be found on the SRS website.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech