College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ECpE grad students compete in Three-Minute Thesis Competition

On November 5, Bill Graves, dean of the Graduate College at Iowa State University introduced the Three-Minute Thesis Competition, an opportunity to show the unique and challenging research faculty and students are doing at Iowa State.

“The challenge is for graduate students to describe their scholarly work in ways that are understandable and compelling,” Graves said.

Graduate students are encouraged to frame their work and writing in ways the audience can understand for the Three-Minute Thesis Competition. There were eight finalists, two of them coming from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE).

Andrew Downs and Yueyi Jiao, both graduate assistant-research students in ECpE, participated in the Three-Minute Thesis Competition. Downs, who finished in second place, spoke about preventing catastrophes: An advancement in the science of ultrasonic, non-destructive evaluation.

Downs began discussing his topic by telling a story about a plane crash, allowing the audience to understand and relate to the topic before bringing in the scientific aspect. Throughout Downs’ speech, he relates nondestructive evaluation to humans in between scientific information to keep the audience’s attention.

Shortly after Downs, Jiao, a finalist in the competition, began her speech. Similar to Downs, the first thing she said related to a general audience — discussing a bridge collapse and cars being stuck. Jiao then went on to explain her topic.

Jiao introduced a small, flexible sensor used to monitor small changes in concrete in real time. Her sensor can produce large signals while being extremely small. The sensor is protected and contains liquid metal. Jiao explained that this device can help to protect and save families and people.

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