31 October 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
PhD students compete in three-minute thesis competition
The ten PhD students who participated in the Three-Minute-Thesis Competition.

Ten Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students from five universities across the country were pitted against one another in the robust finals of the annual national Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, held at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Postgraduate School Assistant Officer, Kamogelo Dithebe, said this is a research-communication competition developed by the University of Queensland, whereby PhD students are given three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance.

The competition challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries to be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience.

Developed in 2008, enthusiasm for the 3MT concept and its adoption in numerous universities has led to the development of an international competition. Students become eligible to participate in the national competition once they have participated in the competition at institutional level.
 
Dithebe stated that the institutional winner and the runner-up become eligible for representation at national level. Institutions that participated in the 2018 national competition were the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Cape Town, Durban University of Technology, as well as the hosts, the University of the Free State.

Research on water-leakage problems comes out tops

The University of Cape Town’s Civil Engineering student, Rene Nsanzubuhoro, pipped all his counterparts to walk away with a R16 000 prize as well as a People’s Choice prize of R6 000 – this is where the audience were given ballots to vote for their choice. His topic was: Fighting leakage one pipe at a time

The core focus of his research was leakage in water-pipe systems. This is a major concern to water utilities for several reasons, including loss of a limited resource, pumping energy, revenue loss, and increased health risk as leaks are potential entry points for contaminants if a pressure drop occurs in the system. In the study, a novel device for assessing the condition of water-pipe systems was designed, constructed, and tested.

Research on clean water takes a second spot

The runner-up was a Chemical Engineering student from the University of Johannesburg, Oluwademilade Fayemiyo, who won a prize of R11 000. Her topic was: From wine to water: Searching within for clean water.

Two students from the University of the Free State, Trudie Strauss and Nokuthula Tlalajoe, represented the institution.

Strauss, who is a Mathematical Statistics student, talked about: Babelish Confusion: Finding statistical structure in the diversity of language.

Tlalajoe, a Health Professions Education student, presented the topic: Multiple transition for undergraduate first-year students in the MB CHB programme: Expectations, Experiences, and Emotions.