Postgraduate students Martin Bekker and Pertunia Mashile took top honours at the national Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition held at the University of the Free State on Friday, 25 October 2019.
Bekker, from the University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s Faculty of Humanities, emerged the overall winner of the competition for his thesis presentation titled, “Everything I thought about protest was wrong”. He was awarded a R16 000 cash prize. Mashile, from the UJ Faculty of Science, took the second place prize of R13 000, and walked away with a People’s Choice Award for her thesis presentation titled, “Can what is useful be harmful?”
The South African winners now enter the international U21 competition which will take place later this month, competing against 3MT winners from universities across the globe.
The Three-Minute Thesis competition originates from the University of Queensland in Australia, and has become an annual event in most South African universities. Participants explain the essence of their research in three minutes. Their presentations should cover their research problem, how they tackle it and why it matters.
Since its launch in 2008, the competition has grown in popularity and is run in over 600 universities and institutions in 65 countries around the world. PhD candidates have three minutes and one static PowerPoint slide to explain their research to a mixed audience. 3MT is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research, but challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so that they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience.
Each year, UJ hosts a Three-Minute Thesis competition and awards prizes to the winner and runner-up, as well as presenting People’s Choice Award. The winner goes on to compete nationally at the University of the Free State and later internationally in the virtual U21 competition.