This week marked the 16th version of the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, which was again held in the RPAC. I can’t say enough about the meaning of this event, particularly what it means to me personally.
First, it is huge. We had 580 students exhibiting in the forum, presenting 539 projects. The projects were presented as posters, and they were spread over two full-size gymnasiums in the RPAC. It was incredible to look down from the 3rd floor exercise level onto the projects below. It really brought home how big it actually was.
According to the Honors website, “the Denman is a research competition that provides a means for undergraduate students to share their research with members and friends of the OSU community; to recognize the significant contributions to research by OSU undergraduates; and to facilitate exchange between students, faculty, and the public.” It succeeded in all three purposes.
We had over 25 judges that were from corporations, all with an interest in what our undergraduates are contributing through their research. They came from all over the region, and from as far away as California. Additionally, 365 faculty gave up some of their busy day to assist with the judging. Each project is assigned to three judges who are familiar with the area of research, and each judge is responsible for multiple projects across the area. They read the posters, and interact with the presenting students to get a sense of their interest, commitment and the significance of their contribution. I heard only positive comments from this team of judges, about the student work and about the experience of interacting with the students.
Based on these assessments, the “winning” projects were awarded 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place status, and the students were awarded cash prizes. Sixteen students were selected as 1st place winners. I totally agree with Dr. Carol Whitacre from the OSU Office of Research, who pointed out in her speech that every single one of the participants were winners. The quality of the projects was exceptional, across the board, and I’ve never been around a more articulate group of students who were excited to explain what they had done.
I also had the extreme pleasure of having dinner with Rick and Marte Denman, who were responsible for establishing the forum, and who remain committed to its success. They are OSU alums, and truly are two great friends of the University. Plus, they are just really good people!
I have to offer up my respect and admiration for the students who are engaged with their undergraduate experience, as shown by their work. And I have to offer up my respect and appreciation to all of the participants, from the staff of H&S and URO, to the faculty and industry judges, to the corporate sponsors and individual financial contributors. All of you truly made this day a success!
For more information about the Denman, and a list of the awardees, go to the Denman website at