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Three Minute Thesis Competition Held At the Semester's First Graduate Seminar

Metal origami, drone technology and improved car seats were just a few of the cutting edge ideas presented in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held on Jan. 25.

Seven competitors had three minutes and one Powerpoint slide to present years of focused research in an elevator pitch. They were competing for prize money as well as the chance to represent the department at the college level in the competition.

“The most difficult part of preparing for the presentation was condensing the content into three minutes,” said competitor Arnold Wright. Wright received the second place award for his presentation on Friction Stir Deposition.

The 3MT competition was born in Queensland University in 2008, and Brigham Young University has been participating in this competition since 2017.

Third time 3MT competitor John Hunt earned the first place award from the judges for his work in Defect Detection in Friction Stir Welding. This type of welding involves using frictional heat processes to make the structure more secure. Hunt has worked in this area for several years, first taking interest in it when it was introduced in a class during his undergrad.

I was fascinated because I couldn't believe it was possible to do something like that,” Hunt shared. “...It's a very innovative idea and can help in many different industries.”

Hunt hopes to take his research to Michigan this summer, working with a Ford supply company.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the competition made it’s virtual debut this year on Zoom.

“It’s a little different doing it over Zoom instead of in person. There is a different set of challenges,” said Graduate seminar coordinator Janelle Harkness.

One of those unique challenges was the lack of face to face interaction.

“A big part of 3MT is getting the audience involved and making them want to learn more, and you just don’t have any gauge of how well you’re doing that, so in that regard it was harder,” Hunt said. “But in some ways it was less stressful...I wasn’t worrying if anyone could see the sweat marks as I moved my arms [like I would] in person.”

Other first time additions to the competition included an entirely virtual people’s choice survey. Spencer Baker was a crowd favorite, winning the people's choice award for his presentation titled “Modeling Back Motion.”

Both Hunt and Wright will move on to the college competition held Feb. 4.

The competition was the first of 11 graduate seminars for graduate students in the Mechanical Engineering department this semester. Visit the graduate student page for the seminar schedule.