Laurier’s Three Minute Thesis gives opportunity for Masters and PhD students to show off their skills

Photo by Isaak Wong

Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual Three Minute Thesis student competition is welcoming back a fresh crop of bright minds and this year, Laurier has opened the internationally recognized academic competition’s floor to undergraduate students for the first time. 

The premise of the competition is to challenge graduate and PhD students to give a three-minute pitch to a panel of non-specialist judges, displaying their own primary research for a chance to win a cash prize and honourable recognition for their work. Competitors are provided with a short amount of time and a very limited disposal of resources – no notes, no props and no more than one slide.

Laurier has been participating in the Three Minute Thesis since 2012, following after the University of Queensland, Australia, which first establish the competition in 2008.

This year’s competition will be taking place on the morning Wednesday, Mar. 27 at the Senate and Board Chamber. Beginning with the Undergraduate division at 9:00 a.m. and proceeding with the graduate, doctoral division, all Laurier students, faculty, friends and family are welcome to spectate. 

Alayna Frey, communications coordinator for Laurier’s Three Minute Thesis competition, said that the competition this year is fierce as the competition continues to grow on our campus. 

The expert, layperson panel of judges come from a wide variety of fields including journalism, administration, business and education.

There are 10 undergraduate students and 20 graduate and PhD students competing this year, a substantially larger competition compared to last year which hosted only three graduate and PhD students.

“The competition allows them to prove all sorts of skills – communication skills, presentation skills and network with other academics,” Frey said.

 “Our first prize winner, at the graduate and doctoral level, is $1,000; runner-up is $500 and we also have our honourable mention, who the judges pick, who receives $250. There’s also the participants’ choice, who is chosen by fellow competitors.”

The winner of the graduate student competition will also be given the opportunity to attend the provincial competition being hosted by McMaster University on April 17, at which representatives from 16 graduate schools will assemble to compete. 

The expert, layperson panel of judges come from a wide variety of fields including journalism, administration, business and education. The criteria for their judgments are based upon the competitors’ ability to engage with the audience, communication and overall comprehension. 

“We’ve selected the judges based on people we thought that the students may recognize or sort of stakeholders in the community,” Frey said. 

Some of the judges asked to contribute are Catherine Thompson from the Waterloo Region Record; Shelley Martin, CEO of Vineland Research and Innovation Centre; as well as Tristan Long, associate professor of biology at Laurier. 

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