On March 9, 11 BYU graduate students competed in the university-wide Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT). Competitors were required to present their theses within three minutes, and were judged on comprehension, engagement and communication. Mechanical engineering graduate student Jared Butler won third place and $1,500 in prize money.
Butler's thesis focused on using origami-based shielding for spacecrafts. Current metal shielding is heavy and expensive. However, Butler explained that if spacecrafts started using origami-shaped shielding, they would experience a 96 percent reduction in mass and a 90 percent reduction in price.
Butler first started working with origami-based shielding when he accepted an opportunity from BYU to work in the Compliat Mechanism Research Laboratory while working towards his master's degree in mechanical engineering. Prior to this, he had been working as a physics teacher at a public school. Since he has been at BYU, Butler has worked on designing the origami-shielding for NASA's new Mars Rover and has worked with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"I love my work because it is enabling us to search deeper into the universe and push humanity forward in our quest for knowledge," Butler said.
First and second place were taken by social work graduate student Kaitlin Paxton Ward, and educational inquiry, measurement and evaluation graduate student Heidi Vogeler, respectively. Congratulations to all the winners.