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Ignite event tells stories behind research

On April 15, 2014

Eight students shared their passions and stories during Ignite last Friday at USU, which focused on students and their stories behind their research, said Scott Bates, associate vice president of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

Ignite was part of Research Week. There were events about how to do research, presentations of research and awards.

“But none of that gets to the underlying reason why everybody does it,” Bates said. “We want to communicate the joy behind what we do.”

Besides talks, building competitions are a part of Ignite to break the ice and warm up the crowd, Bates said. This year’s competition was paper airplane-making. Participants had to use two pennies, three straws and a strip of duct tape and were allowed to use as much newspaper as they liked. Andy Bayles’ plane, Falcon Justice, won after flying 42 feet when thrown from the second floor balcony in the Merrill-Cazier Library’s South Atrium.

The theme of Ignite is “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” Using drama, poetry and images, students from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds shared their stories in five minutes and 20 PowerPoint slides set to automatically advance.

Nicole Martineau, an undergraduate in biology and drama, shared how she merges her passions for art and science by exploring the use of drama in classrooms to teach science. She talked about a growing movement called STEAM that adds art to STEM, making it science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Art and science aren’t as different as people think, she said.

“Both are an effort to understand and explain what we see,” Martineau said.

Brian Cook, a graduate student in the English department, shared his personal coming-out experience and how he made sense of his own religious history through slam poetry. His research experience was about researching himself, he said.

“In creative writing, research is attempting to understand humanity and the self,” he said.

Emily Maxwell, a freshman in communications in business, had to come for her English class. The class is working on research papers, and her professor wanted them to go to Ignite and learn about the research process, she said. For Maxwell, it was interesting how the speakers all came to their research questions by following their little passions and interests to something that could be applied in the real world.

Her favorite talk was by Tyler King, a student in environmental engineering, who spoke on finding one’s passion. She said she could relate to his struggle to find what he wanted to do because she had difficulty deciding on her own research question. Maxwell felt the talk was most relevant to students as they try to figure out what they want to do.

This is Ignite’s second year as part of Research Week. The event did not see as large of a crowd last year, Bates said.

“It’s sad that the turnout was mediocre last year, because the talks were so good,” Bates said.

Bates said the poor turnout may have resulted from ill timing. Instead of being held later in the day, after Student Showcase, this year the event was held between Student Showcase and the concluding award ceremony. Ignite 2014’s audience filled the South Atrium, a turnout Bates is happy with.

“We’ll see you in 2015,” he said.


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