Three-minute pressure cooker tests grad students’ mettle

March 4th, 2013 · No Comments · Advisory, Education, News Release, Peers, Research, Students, graduate studies

It’s part game show, and part final exam. Do graduate students “know their stuff” enough so that they can explain their research in a way that is easy for a lay audience to understand?

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition originally developed by The University of Queensland. 3MT® challenges graduate students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience.

Today’s graduate students at the University of Manitoba are the source of tomorrow’s innovation. They are explorers and trailblazers who bring ideas to life and propel our economy. The physics of how data storage devices retain information was likely first conceived by a graduate student in a college or university laboratory. The breakthrough that can potentially cure a ravaging disease might have first been presented at a graduate research seminar in a medical school.

Jay Doering, vice-provost (graduate education) and dean of graduate studies, says: “The work of graduate students is fundamental to how knowledge is conveyed and put into practice, and the ability to convey complex and advanced ideas to a thesis review committee is an essential tool of post-secondary education. Furthermore, the ability to communicate is an essential life skill, with uses in and implications for both one’s career and personal life.”

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is open to all University of Manitoba graduate students. Each competitor will have three minutes, using only a single slide as an illustration, to clearly explain to a panel of judges the nature, goals and significance of his or her research.

The University of Manitoba is looking to include 3MT® as part of an overall strategy to provide career building opportunities for graduate students, promote research at the University of Manitoba and also connect with the broader university and surrounding community.

Challenging? You bet it is. It takes years for a thesis to be researched and finalized-never mind synthesizing it down to a mere three minutes to get the information across to a lay audience. Competitors will be evaluated by our panel of judges, with the audience voting for the People’s Choice winner at the Final Competition.

The emcee for the Final Competition will be Richard Cloutier, news director, CJOB. Judges will be: Janice Lederman, chair, University of Manitoba Board of Governors & Executive Chair, Innovate Manitoba; Paul Samyn, editor, Winnipeg Free Press; and The Honourable Erin Selby, Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy, Minister Responsible for International Education, Province of Manitoba and MLA for Southdale.

For the first Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition at the University of Manitoba, there were 137 applicants, 30 of whom were selected to compete in one of three heats. Only nine participants made it through the winnowing process to the final competition.

The Final Competition will be held on March 6, 2013, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre at St. John’s College, Fort Garry Campus. The public is invited to cheer on our innovative graduate students as they compete in the Final Competition. You’re encouraged to come out and hear our visionary graduate students explain-in three minutes or less-what their research is all about.

The prizes for the Final Competition are $5,000 for First Place, $2,000 for Second Place and $1,000 for People’s Choice.

The first 3MT® was held at The University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT® concept grew and by 2010 included 33 universities in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. In 2011, the Trans-Tasman 3MT® competition expanded to 43 universities and, for the first time, regional 3MT® events were held in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Hong Kong.

For more information, please contact Jay Doering, graduate studies, at: 204-474- 9887, or email:

Join the conversation on Twitter! Follow us at @umanitoba and tag your tweets with #3MT and #umanitoba

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