Using Graduate Student Research as an Effective Recruitment Tool

5/1/24 Pratt School of Engineering

Students in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department presented research on a range of topics to show prospective candidates what’s possible at Duke.

students prepare research posters for symposium event
Using Graduate Student Research as an Effective Recruitment Tool

Duke’s MEMS department’s recent research symposium served as a crucial platform for graduate students to present their work to an audience of would-be Blue Devils. The event proved instrumental in highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of the department, showcasing a selection of research presentations from current MEMS graduate students. 

The symposium included more space for informal interactions with students and visitors, as posters stood outside the conference room in the Wilkinson Engineering Building with groups gathered around exchanging ideas. Lawrie Virgin, professor in the MEMS department and director of graduate studies, says it was the first time the symposium was utilized as a recruitment event.

The combination of posters and talks showcased the wide range of research being conducted in the department, providing the recruits with some in-depth access to current research projects.

Lawrie Virgin Professor in the MEMS Department and Director of Graduate Studies

“The combination of posters and talks showcased the wide range of research being conducted in the department, providing the recruits with some in-depth access to current research projects,” Virgin said. “It also allowed our current students to gain some experience in preparing their posters and engaging in talks with prospective students.”

The MEMS graduate students organizing the symposium brought their multidisciplinary research in the hopes of conducting another event in the future. “My research presentation covered the synthesis of biocompatible polymers, which can be used to 3D print medical devices,” said Maddiy Segal, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering and materials science and member of Matthew Becker’s, Hugo L. Blomquist distinguished professor of chemistry, research group. 

“The research symposium was a valuable tool to practice presenting our findings to a more general audience. While PhD students have many opportunities to discuss their research with other scholars in their field, finding opportunities to showcase research to a broader audience is less frequent but just as important,” she shared.

Students from across the MEMS department shared their research during the symposium with colleagues and prospective Blue Devils

The graduate student committee of the MEMS department led the charge in bringing the event to a wider audience, with committee members focusing on organizing more ways to engage with other students considering coming to Duke. “I think this first symposium was a huge success,” said Annika Haughey, a PhD candidate in the TAST NRT program

“We had students presenting from all corners of the department–from aeroelasticity research to materials, as well as surgical robotics. I think the students gained valuable experience presenting and communicating their work effectively,” she said.   

Other students reveled in the opportunity to engage with collaborators and learn about the work of their peers. Defne Circi, a graduate student in MEMS, says the symposium sparked greater appreciation for her colleagues. “I connected with fellow computer science master’s students from the MEMS department,” she explained. “And the presentation broadened my perspective on the variety of research endeavors within our department. Personally, the experience rekindled my appreciation for the dynamic of live presentations and the irreplaceable aspect of face-to-face communication.”

Graduate Student Research

Engineering students at Duke are diving deeper into research that matters