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USM, PENANG, 13 April 2016 - An annual academic competition, the 3-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT), organised by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Institute of Postgraduate Studies (IPS) would assist the currently-enrolled postgraduate students to develop effective presentation and communication skills.

According to the Deputy Dean of IPS, Associate Professor Dr. Hasrina Mustafa, 3MT is a challenge for the students to consolidate their ideas and researches, for them to present those ideas in a consistent manner to a non-specialist audience. This competition also helps to cultivate the S.O.P. skills of students, which refers to the skills in summarising, organising and doing presentations.

“Students are required to summarise 300 or more pages of their thesis into a 3-minute presentation, whereby they have to select the most relevant and best information to be highlighted in the session. Besides, they have to deliver the messages in the way that is accessible and comprehensible to the ordinary public,” said Hasrina.

She added further, non-verbal expression is crucial in the competition, where the students have to 'hide' their nervousness, and to clearly express themselves with suitable expressions and hand gestures.

The 3MT competition is open to all USM-registered Ph.D candidates, be they local or international students. It is divided into three main categories, which are Social Sciences and Technologies, Engineering and Science Technology.

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Nur Azzalia Kamaruzaman, 28, from the Centre for Drug Research, was chosen as the Grand Prize winner in the Science Technology category. She was also the youngest researcher among the three Grand Prize winners from each category.

“I changed my proposal four times and had to replan everything when I faced a dead end in my proposal. However, I didn’t give up and always look for the way out,” said Azzalia.

For her, to be successful, everyone needs to work hard, and she urged those who want to succeed in life, to continue to work hard and fight for it.

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The Grand Prize winner in the Social Sciences and Technologies category, Yap Lang Leng, 44, from the Graduate School of Business (GSB) said that, as a part-time research student, she faced challenges to balance the time between her family and research. However, she had never thought of giving up even though her research had a slow progress.

Last but not least, Mohamed Syazwan bin Omar, 44, the Grand Prize winner in the Engineering category, said that 3MT had actually provided a good platform to improve their presentation and summarizing skills in which they have to summarize and offer some views on what their research would mean to a non-specialist.

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“Getting a Ph.D is a character-building and training process, whereby you will meet with a lot of obstacles and you need to continue to overcome them one by one on your own.  If you have a big dream, do not hesitate to take the first step to achieve your dreams,” said Syazwan.

56 USM postgraduate students entered the competition in various categories. Each Grand Prize winner received a cash prize of RM600 and a certificate, second runner-up received a cash prize of RM400 and a certificate and third runner-up a cash prize of RM200 and a certificate. The Grand Prize winner for each category will be representing USM at the Finals of the 3MT International Competition on 10th May 2016.

Text: Loh Mei Fang (USM Internship Student)

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