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Three Minute Thesis Competition: Four of Ten Finalists from CCEE

What if you could share the solar energy that you gather with your neighbors instead of being required to sell it back to the grid? What might we learn by studying the gut microbiome of bedbugs, and why is there a resurgence in bedbugs in recent decades?  As populations increase, and clean water becomes even more scarce, how can environmental engineers design systems that serve more people? Can we control the spread of the Zika virus by genetically engineering mosquitos so that they are incapable of transmitting the virus?

The audience at this year’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition was asked to ponder questions that ranged from bedbugs and mosquitoes, to alarming statistics about the scarcity of clean water available to much of earth’s population.

Ten finalists competed in the Three Minute Thesis competition. Of the ten, six were from the College of Engineering and four were students from the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering department.

Four of the ten finalists in this year’s 3MT were CCEE students.  Ali Almalki (top left) Shams Al-Amin (top right) Resulali Orgut (bottom left) and Atefeh Zamani (bottom right).
Four of the ten finalists in this year’s 3MT were CCEE students. Ali Almalki (top left) Shams Al-Amin (top right) Resulali Orgut (bottom left) and Atefeh Zamani (bottom right).

The challenge of the 3MT is to present a compelling overview of research in three minutes or less, using only 1 slide. The competition encourages PhD students to hone their communication skills, and make their thesis topic accessible and interesting to those not necessarily familiar with their research.

First place went to Gilbert Castillo, a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student. His presentation “Glass-like Coatings for Polymers” opened by explaining that everyone was either wearing or carrying some form of polyster. His research involves adding a molecule to traditional polyster to enhance surface performance for potential use in cell phone screens to resist fingerprints.

CCEE student Resulali Orgut received Second Place for his presentation entitled “Metrics that Matter.” He asked audience members if they’d ever been stuck in traffic because of never-ending highway construction, or if anyone had ever complained about wasted tax dollars on large public projects that never seem to reach completion? Orgut’s work outlines 20 core metrics that can be tracked to significantly decrease cost overruns and schedule delays.

Other CCEE students among the ten finalists competing included: Shams Al-Amin whose research addresses questions of equity and sustainability for water management decisions; Ali Almalki who develops models predicting where unpaved shoulders along North Carolina roads will deteriorate faster so that NCDOT can prioritize its funding and save tax dollars; and Atefeh Zamani whose research investigates natural soil improvement methods using compounds produced by bacteria to stabilize sandy soils.

The 3MT originated at the University of Queensland, Australia in 2008. It has spread around the world since and is now held in more than 170 Universities in 17 countries. This year marks the second year that NC State University has participated.