Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
While recognized in the scientific world for his contributions to the modern alternating current (AC) system of power delivery, Nikola Tesla is also highly regarded as a scientific showman — performing many electrical demonstrations in front of a live audience.
“When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous,” wrote author John Patrick Barrett about one of Tesla´s demonstrations in his 1894 book Electricity at the Columbia Exposition. “These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, where they produced so much wonder and astonishment.”
In an effort to frame research in a more dramatic fashion, TERC, a not-for-profit group based in Cambridge, Mass., has announced the start of online voting to select a winner for its third annual Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) 2013 Video and Poster Competition.
Once an academic poster contest, the competition has been re-imagined to include multimedia that reveals IGERT students and faculty´s “latest interdisciplinary research changing our world (and the awesome young scientists and engineers behind that work),” according TERC spokeswoman Kacy Karlen.
To encourage potential entrants, 2012 award winner Mathew Cooper stressed the importance of conveying research in a multimedia format.
“As scientists, video is a very powerful tool,” Cooper said in an online video. “If you can encapsulate your project and your results into a three-minute video that´s accessible to the broader community, to funding agencies, to folks that need to see your work — that´s a tool that´s going to take you a long way in your careers. And, I so think this competition is a way“¦ is a good excuse for you to really dive into that and figure out what it takes to produce these videos.”
The competition´s organizers note that video and social media allow for more complex or mundane ideas to be conveyed in a more immediate and exciting fashion. They said that showcasing scientific research in multimedia format can enable researchers to connect with each other and the general public in a more profound way.
“Last year’s presenters (from over 125 IGERT programs nationwide) submitted 113 videos, highlighting research across topics like biologically-inspired robotic engineering, smart textile design, nano-plasmonic engineering for energy efficiency, and more,” Karlen said.
As a way to assist this year´s contestants, the competition´s organizers created a video series featuring last year´s awardees giving tips on how to convert research into a social media-friendly format.
Fifty IGERT faculty judges will choose 20 winners, four winners will be chosen by IGERT Community members and one Public Choice award will be determined by ℠likes´ on Facebook.
Voting for the competitions´ Community Choice and Public Choice awards begins on May 21. The next day, contestants must answer judges´ queries about their entries by midnight EDT. On May 23, voting for the Community Choice and Public Choice awards ends at 10pm EDT. The winners are scheduled to be announced on May 24.