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ODU'S 3MT Competition Set for Jan. 18

By Kathryn Paiewonsky

Old Dominion University will hold its second Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) at 5 p.m. Jan. 18 in the University Theatre.

The 3MT Competition originated at the University of Queensland in Australia in 2008 and has traveled around the world. It gives graduate students an opportunity to explain their research to a general audience - in just three minutes. Students have a chance to win prize money, and the winner will represent ODU in Tennessee at a regional competition in February.

This competition can benefit graduate students in many ways. Public speaking does not come naturally to all and can be nerve-racking. With the help of the 3MT Competition, students can master their presentation and public-speaking skills. The campus community is invited to watch the competition.

"These students are chosen from those who have been working on the project over the weeks, and have been coached," said Bryan Porter, associate dean of the Graduate School. "We prepare them to develop the strongest message they can in three minutes so by finals night they are ready to go and feel confident."

Throughout the competition, students learn to present their research information in not only an academic style, but an entertaining style. This should benefit them in the future when they are competing for attention and funding.

The 3MT Competition reserves space in the finals for 12 graduate students. To participate, students need to be nearing the completion of their research.

Over the past year, interest in the 3MT Competition has increased, Porter said. "We had as many as 16 students signed up to compete this year," he said.

Many graduate students were interested in competing this year but due to various reasons had to drop out. William Heffelfinger, the University's director of graduate admissions, was involved in the promotion of the event.

"To see our graduate students present their research in a way that a common person can understand in just three minutes is just fascinating to me," Heffelfinger said.

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