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Student Research Symposium Adds Motto, New Event

SOCORRO, N.M. February 6, 2014 – The Student Research Symposium team is adding a new event and adopting a motto for the 2014 Student Research Symposium, which will be April 9.

Team chair Dr. Mary Dezember said the event will place new emphasis on the new motto: “Communicate to Educate!”

Nick Muller, a senior in the Mathematics Department, is the student leader on the Symposium’s organizing committee. He said the new motto will help get the event’s message across.

“It really helps our students understand that we need to take a step back from technical jargon to ensure that we are getting our message across,” he said. “Effective communication is one skill set that our students can improve and the Student Research Symposium is a great way to emphasize communication skills to all students, not just to research groups.”

Evaluation of audience awareness survey results decreased in 2013 from the results in 2012.

“The message the SRS has begun promoting to our students is that if your audience is not learning from your presentation, then effective communication is not occurring,” Dezember said. “This fits well with the Symposium’s mission: for our students to ‘share knowledge’ and ‘to communicate … research/design projects to a multi-disciplinary audience.’ ”

The Student Research Symposium has a broad audience – 500 people each year, including middle school students, high school students, community college students, Tech students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local residents. Therefore, student presenters must be mindful of communicating the significance of their research or design projects to the public, as opposed to a technical audience of peers.

Also new this year will be the Three-Minute Presentation Competition. The Three-Minute Presentation is an optional category that may appeal to students who want to compete for prizes. Students may present only one slide and talk for only three minutes on their research or design. This competition is an outgrowth of a similar event organized by Professor Julie Ford last spring that was open only to mechanical engineering students.

“I think that it will fill a unique niche in the SRS for students who might be in early stages of their research with minimal data to report,” Dr. Julie Ford said.

Dezember said the three-minute presentations also give upper-level undergraduates a chance to hone their skills at communicating clearly to a general audience. Ford said the limitation to one PowerPoint slide puts the emphasis on choosing speech to articulate a clear message, rather than relying too heavily on a tool.

“If you’ve ever tried to talk about a complex technical problem in three minutes, you know it’s a challenge,” Ford said. “It really tests students’ abilities to, first of all, nutshell a problem, which is incredibly important, and, second, talk in general terms about the significance of their work.”

Registration is currently open for student presenters. The deadline is Monday, February 17. More than 100 students presented 56 research and design posters and talks in 2013. To register, visit http://www.nmt.edu/images/stories/SRS/Registration_Form_2014_PDF.pdf

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech