Students take three minutes to win thesis competition

The college’s annual Three Minute Thesis competition was Wednesday, February 15. Three finalists were chosen, and the first place winner will compete in the university-wide competition on Thursday, March 9. That winner will receive $5,000. The competitors get three minutes to present their thesis with only one PowerPoint slide and they are judged on comprehension, engagement, and communication.

Jared Butler, a mechanical engineering student, took home first place and $500 for his thesis on origami-based shielding in space applications. Butler also won the people’s choice award and $100. In his three minutes, he talked about how early space travel took a "medieval armor approach" in that designers packed heavy metal onto the ships for protection. His research is based on his work in developing origami-based shielding for spacecraft to protect them from outer space. This work has the potential to significantly reduce costs because the metals currently being used are extremely heavy and expensive.

“Metal can be very heavy and is not very flexible, making space exploration more difficult and more expensive,” Butler said. “I am using the ancient art of origami to redesign spacecraft shielding that is lighter and more efficient. “

 Kim Stevens, also a mechanical engineering student, came in second place, receiving $250 for her thesis on condensation, and how using super-hydrophoic surfaces for faster condensation can help create more fresh water and electricity for the world. Third place and $150 went to Abe Martin, a chemical engineering student. His thesis focused on optimizing solar-powered drones that will fly above certain areas for months at a time to provide internet to those who do not have access to it. Martin also participated in the college 3MT competition last year, coming in second place.

Butler is honored to have won the college-wide competition and looks forward to competing to win the university-wide competition.

“I love what I do as an engineer and hope to represent the college well.”

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