Annual Two-day Celebration of Research and Discovery at WPI Set for March 30-31

240 graduate students will tell their stories of cutting-edge research in posters; a select few will get to pitch their innovations to a panel of entrepreneurs
March 24, 2011

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It has been said that a good researcher must also be a good storyteller. The tales of modern cutting-edge research are complex and multifaceted, full of twists and turns, surprises and disappointments, and drama befitting a good mystery novel. To win recognition and support, and to advance their disciplines, researchers must become adept at explaining, clearly and succinctly, what they are doing and why it matters.

Each spring, the large and diverse graduate research community at WPI comes together to share its stories during Graduate Research Achievement Days (GRAD), a two-day celebration of research and discovery at the university. This year's GRAD event will consist of two components: a poster session and the Innovation Presentation Competition.

Set for Wednesday, March 30, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and filling every corner of the upper level of the Campus Center, the GRAD Poster Session will feature 240 master's and PhD candidates standing before colorful, carefully designed posters, ready to explain their ongoing research. Like budding entrepreneurs, they'll have honed "elevator pitches" that capture not just what they are working on, but how their research will solve important problems and make a real difference in the world. Monetary awards and certificates will go to the top posters.

A select group of students from the poster session will be invited to return on Thursday, March 31, starting at 4:30 p.m., in the Campus Center Odeum, for the Innovation Presentation Competition. They will each make a five-minute pitch--without PowerPoint or props--to a panel of judges that includes entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business executives. Awards will be given to the students who present the most marketable ideas and do so most effectively. The judges for the competition will be:

  • Tripp Peake, Managing Partner, Long Rive Ventures
  • Paul Angelico '78, Principal, The Dover Group
  • Bob Brown '78, CEO, Goss International Corporation
  • Larry Genovesi, Chairman and CTO, Terascala Inc.
  • Susan Loconto Penta '86, Partner, Midior Consulting

The presentation competition will be webcast live

A broad range of research projects in business, engineering and science, the life sciences and bioengineering, and the social sciences will be presented. Here is a small sample of the topics:

  • Energy and the Environment: capturing heat from asphalt to generate energy and prevent pavement damage; simulation of offshore floating wind turbines; assessing viral pathogen risk in drinking water.
  • Fire Safety: a roadmap for risk-informed, performance-based fire safety design; the flammability of entrained coal dust particles; piloted ignition regimes of wildland fuel beds.
  • Information Technology: smell landmarks in virtual environments; turning streaming data into useful information; secure and scalable data sharing in cloud computing.
  • Learning Sciences and Technology: increasing parent engagement in student learning with intelligent tutors; automatically detecting emotion as students interact with intelligent tutors; designing new assessment reports for student inquiry skills in middle school science.
  • Regenerative Biology: restoring damaged heart tissue with adult stem cells; delivering stem cells to targeted sites in the body with biological sutures; transforming human skin cells into stem-like cells.
  • Robotics: modeling of a modular, multi-legged robot; how robots can win friends and influence people; adding tactile and haptic feedback to surgical robots.
  • Technology and Health: patterns of utilization in personal health records; dynamical modeling and human sleep; localizing medical devices with body area wireless networks.

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