Chemical engineering grad students to sharpen skills with 90-second research presentations

“So, what kind of research do you do?”

Students in auditorium watch presentation
Chemical engineering graduate students and other researchers and faculty members will be focused on the “Perfect Pitch” presentations in February.

That question, and how to answer it in a detailed, yet time-efficient manner, is the motivation behind a new drill for Iowa State chemical engineering graduate students. The “Perfect Pitch Competition” will spotlight doctoral-track students presenting their research in a 90-second time frame using one Power Point slide as a visual aid.

“Perfect Pitch” will be held as the February 15 and February 22 installments of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Graduate Seminar Series, which typically brings in outside presenters or presenters from the Iowa State campus. The series is part of the required curriculum for chemical engineering graduate students.

Qualifying students’ presentations will be before their peers and a panel of judges. Cash prizes will be offered, with $150 to the first-place presenter in each session, $100 as second prize and $50 for third. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • What is the real-life problem you are addressing?
  • How does your approach uniquely solve the problem?
  • What is the potential impact if your research is successful?

Additional criteria include the quality of the visual aid and overall presentation style.

Dr. Eric Cochran
Chemical engineering Director of Graduate Education Dr. Eric Cochran is one of the principals involved in launching the graduate student “Perfect Pitch” competition.

Winners will be invited to represent the department in the university-wide “3-Minute Thesis” competition at a later date.

“We hope that through the Perfect Pitch competition our students sharpen their skills in informing and exciting an audience of non-experts about their research. These skills are crucial, as the next generation of experts will need to communicate effectively about science with a variety of stakeholders ranging from customers to policy-makers, students and the general public,” said Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Education Eric Cochran.