Iowa State holds second three-minute thesis competition


Melanie VanHorn/ Iowa State Daily

The Four Muses of Marston Hall as seen on the monthly campus Art Walk today. 

Jillian Alt

The clock is ticking. Ready, set, THESIS!

Iowa State is hosting it’s 2nd three-minute thesis competition for graduate students on Nov. 6 in Marston Hall.

Participants will have three minutes to present their thesis, and only one powerpoint slide. Their job is to explain their thesis in laymen’s terms, make it interesting, and make it three minutes or less. If they go just one second over, they are disqualified.

The students are allowed a single powerpoint slide with no video, no sound, and no animations. Bill Graves, dean of the Graduate College says that this makes the thesis more reliant on the presenter, which makes things like oral communication skills more important.

“We’re so used to using Powerpoint as a crutch,” Graves said. “Everything is laid out for us, so their presentation really relies on the presenter.”

The competition will have 5 heats of preliminary rounds which will take place in Pearson and Carver hall, starting at 3 p.m. The top 2 in each heat will go on to the final round at 2200 Marsten Hall at 5 p.m. which will be critiqued by a panel of judges from outside the university. 

The final round judges panel includes Nancy Boettger from the Board of Regents, Mayor Ann Campbell and a Des Moines Register columnist, Kathie Obradovich.

Judy Strand is a member of the committee organizing the three-minute thesis competition.

“It makes them look at their thesis differently,” Strand said, “They have to take something they’ve been researching for anywhere from 2-6 years and they have to present it in 3 minutes to people who don’t necessarily understand the importance of the subject.” 

Prizes will be awarded to first place, runner up, and the people’s choice — $500, $250, and $250. The first place winner will also be funded to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the regional competition on April 6.

There are 43 participants this year, 13 more than last year, from all different departments on campus. 

The event will take place Nov 6 in Pearson Hall on the second floor and in Carver Hall at 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. The final round will begin at 5 p.m. and will go until 6 p.m. in 2200 Marsten Hall. It will also be broadcasted live at this link: