A matter of time: Dal’s 3 Minute Thesis competition returns another year

- January 31, 2024

Joseph Orji, last year's winner of the Dal 3 Minute Thesis competition. (Nick Pearce photo)
Joseph Orji, last year's winner of the Dal 3 Minute Thesis competition. (Nick Pearce photo)

Dalhousie’s annual 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition returns this March, once again challenging graduate students across the university to present their research to a live non-specialist audience in three minutes or less.

Registration for the competition — organized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies — is now open for PhD and research-based master’s students, who are invited to battle it out for a chance to win cash prizes and compete at the Eastern regionals at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec. Competitors must create an engaging three-minute presentation, using only one static PowerPoint slide as a visual aid, to describe their research and its impact in the allotted time and win over the judges and audience.

Last year, Computer Science master's student Joseph Orji took home the winning title during the finals with his memorable presentation on developing an app that uses artificial intelligence to promote positive emotional responses in humans and help manage stress.

We caught up with Joseph to get his thoughts on the competition and advice for future participants.

You won the Dalhousie 2023 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. What did this mean for you and your research?

Winning the 3MT was transformative. As a typically shy person, the experience bolstered my confidence to pitch ideas. Observing the enthusiasm for my project during and after the event, especially from participants who tested the app after the event, underscored its significance. This support motivated me to refine the app for broader implementation.

Why is it important for students to participate in competitions such as 3MT?

The 3MT's true value lies in its preparation. Crafting a concise presentation prompts reflection on a project's real-world impact, fostering a fresh perspective. As I readied my talk, I found newfound appreciation for my work, sparking a paradigm shift and a deeper sense of fulfillment in realizing its problem-solving potential.

Explain how the training leading up to the competition helped you gain the skills and confidence to create your 3MT presentation.

I attended all training sessions out of fear, but the excellent facilitators made it worthwhile. The one-on-one and group presentations significantly improved my confidence and organizational skills.

In your opinion, what makes a compelling 3MT presentation?

Authenticity is key. Be genuine, showcase your project naturally, and connect with your audience. Let them see themselves in your presentation for lasting impact and a memorable experience.

What is one piece of advice you have for future 3MT presenters?

Present your ideas clearly, illustrating the impact on the audience and the world. Avoid overemphasis or vagueness. Ensure each point is well-understood, creating a cohesive and compelling narrative.

Here’s how to participate in this year’s 3MT:


  • Want to participate? Visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies website for complete details on the competition and instructions on how to self-enroll on Brightspace.

  • Haven’t yet made up your mind about participating, or want to brush up on your skills? Along with campus partners, the Faculty of Graduate Studies will hold a series of workshops to introduce you to 3MT, help you prepare your presentation and provide one-on-one coaching and feedback. Sessions will be held in February and March – visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies website for a complete list of workshops, including our launch event with NATIONAL Public Relations on Tuesday, February 6.

Faculty and staff

Members of the Dalhousie community (everyone)

  • Mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 19, when the 3MT finals will be held live on campus in Halifax. Cheer on competitors and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award winner, while learning about the impactful work being done by the grad student community.

Key dates:

  • Tuesday, February 6: 3MT kick-off event with NATIONAL Public Relations

  • Tuesday, March 12: 3MT preliminary heats (exact time and location to be announced on the 3MT webpage)

  • Tuesday, March 19: 3MT finals (exact time and location to be announced on the 3MT webpage)

Stay up to date on all things 3MT by visiting dal.ca/grad/3mt and following the Faculty of Graduate Studies on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Facebook. Have a question? Email ThreeMT@dal.ca


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