It’s one thing to do research. It’s quite another to put your findings on a poster board and explain their real-world implications to people with no previous understanding of the subject.
The 13th annual UCF Showcase of Undergraduate Research (SURE) kicks off Thursday, April 7, at 1 p.m. in the Student Union’s Pegasus Ballroom, where students will demonstrate what they’ve learned to the general public.
“Presenting at the showcase gives students an important opportunity to communicate their research, both to attendees in their field of work and to the general public,” said Aubrey Kuperman, coordinator of the UCF Office of Undergraduate Research.
Being able to communicate their expanded knowledge base is a critical skill that sets students apart when applying to graduate school and for jobs, Kuperman added.
The Office of Undergraduate Research holds the event as part of Student Research Week, an annually held series of professional development workshops and forums for undergraduate and graduate students.
All currently enrolled undergraduate students, regardless of major, are eligible to present. Judging for the showcase takes place in three rounds, and the best projects can receive scholarship money.
Burdley Colas, a student working at the College of Optics & Photonics’ Fiber Optics Lab, said preparing for the showcase gave him the opportunity to spend significant time working with his faculty mentor.
“A lot of students just go to class and then don’t take the time to know them,” he said.
“Developing a relationship with a professor helps you understand what they do and you get to ask them questions: What’s it like to be in academia? How do they manage multiple things at once? What does it take to get to grad school? Although you’re an undergraduate, you have the possibility to work with a professor like how a grad student would be entrusted to do. That’s a responsibility, and it’s a fun journey to be on.”
The chance to present was more than just an opportunity for Colas to answer questions and deepen his understanding of his field, he said, because it allowed him to impress upon his peers to take advantage of campus resources.
“You’re not just trying to win an award at the showcase,” he said. “You’re also sending a message, telling the university community: You offered me something, and I made use of it. And I want to inspire others to do the same thing.”