By Sandi Combs
A record 550 students will exhibit projects this week at Ohio University's 2008 Research & Creative Activity Expo. The seventh annual event constitutes the largest showcase of student research endeavors on campus.
The event is open to the public from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Convocation Center.
Part of the excitement about this year's event relates to the growth in student participation. The 550 projects -- 100 more than last year's total -- will undergo judging by more than 80 faculty members.
Much of this success is due to the efforts of Gretchen Stephens' winter-quarter COMS 405 Meeting and Conference Planning class. The students, led by the Office of University Events Special Projects Coordinator Anna Rankin, took a lead role in recruiting students and faculty, laying the groundwork for the event and creating excitement about the event.
The Research & Creative Activity Expo is far from simply a "science fair." Forty-five departments will be represented by novel and engaging student projects, including several that are interdisciplinary in nature.
"I was amazed at the level and sophistication of all works presented last year," said Associate Professor of Music Paschal Younge, who has volunteered to judge student projects for a second time. "Kudos to all faculty and staff for the good work."
Students have the option of simply displaying their work or having it judged. Those who opt for the latter will share more than $16,000 in monetary awards. Each of the 45 first-place winners will receive $300, while 45 second-place winners will earn $100 each.
Interim Vice President for Research James Rankin said the expo enhances students' academic experience.
"The expo is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their research and creative activity. Equally important is that the faculty and students gain an insight into what other departments are doing, which leads to interdisciplinary projects in the future," he said. "The expo also give students a chance to improve their communication skills by presenting their work to the public."
Third-year judge Ralph Whaley, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, agrees that the expo augments learning by offering opportunities for new dialogues on research among students, faculty and the public.
"There are so many exciting projects and so much solid research being done that attending the expo is very inspirational," he said. "It is also very important for faculty of different disciplines to see the work being carried out in other departments. This exposure can provide the seed for joint collaboration on projects or identify resources on campus that are unknown to other research groups."
Judging of student projects will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Highlights of the public session on Thursday include a raffle for an iPod and other giveaways. Parking will be available in Convocation Center Lots 128 and 129 all day.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Anna Rankin at 740-593-0802.
Writer Sandi Combs is among the students who have played a role in coordinating this year's expo.