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Three Minute Thesis Competition helps grad students build strong communication skills

Campus community invited to hear short, engaging research talks starting March 28
March 27, 2017
The 2016 top 10 Three Minute Thesis competition finalists with Lisa Young, vice-provost and dean, Graduate Studies. Photos by Britta Kokemor

The 2016 top 10 Three Minute Thesis competition finalists with Lisa Young, vice-provost and dean, Graduate Studies. Photos by Britta Kokemor 

Each year, thousands of graduate students around the world distill their research into an engaging three-minute talk aimed at a non-specialist audience. This is the internationally recognized Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT).

The University of Calgary is hosting our fifth UCalgary3MT this week. Organized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and managed by the My GradSkills office, the UCalgary3MT happens every March.

Participating in the competition not only builds public speaking skills, but also the ability to clearly communicate complex concepts to a general audience — a skill that employers are continually seeking in employees.

“The top 10 skills that are most desired by employers in the workforce consistently have to do with transferable skills, and communication is often in the top one or two spots on those lists,” says Stephanie Warner, PhD career development specialist, Career Services

“The ability to communicate complex information in a clear, understandable way is a necessity,” Warner says. “Students need to be aware that the academic lingo so desired in journal articles or academic presentations is often restricted to a small group of people who understand the meaning, or relevance, of that language. It needs to be translated into plain language for granting agencies, news sources … and most importantly, when you’re trying to relate your skills and abilities to a prospective employer.”

This year, 58 graduate students in programs ranging from Environmental Design and Biomedical Engineering to Drama and Law, will share about their research and its significance. Graduate students will compete in five heats between March 28 and March 30. Heats will take place at both main and Foothills campuses.

Audience members will be able to vote for their favourite speaker to win a People’s Choice award. The top two speakers from each heat will go on to compete in the UCalgary3MT Finals on April 5.

Members of the campus community and the general public are invited to attend all heats and the finals. Past years have included talks on interesting topics such as Why do Canadian Millennial Teachers Leave the Profession?, Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water: The Invisible Threat, and Keeping the Lights On: Memory After a Mini-Stroke.

UCalgary3MT 2017

  • Heat #1: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Gallery Hall, TFDL (main campus)
  • Heat #2: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Theatre 4, HSC (Foothills campus)
  • Heat #3: Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Theatre 4, HSC (Foothills campus)
  • Heat #4: Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Gallery Hall, TFDL (Main campus)
  • Heat #5: Thursday, March 30, 2017, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Gallery Hall, TFDL (Main campus)
  • Finals: Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Husky Oil Great Hall, Rosza Centre (Main campus)

Watch videos of previous UCalgary3MT Finalists.