10 Tips to Score High Marks on the MPD Student Poster Contest

Happy New Year! January is a time for goal setting, planning for the year and submitting abstracts for the Mineral & Metallurgical Processing Division (MPD) Student Poster Contest. Below is a little background, in case you are not familiar with the contest. The MPD holds a student poster contest annually in conjunction with the SME Annual Conference & Expo. This provides students with the opportunity to present their research to and network with industry professionals, all while trying to win scholarship money. The contest has two parts: one-page abstracts and poster presentation. The deadline for the abstracts is January 31, 2018. All abstracts should be emailed to Ren Bryce at cbryce@fmi.com. The presentations will be the morning of February 28, 2018, in Minneapolis, MN. Additional details are on the website: www.smenet.org/students/student-competitions/mpd-division-student-poster-competition.

Below are 10 tips to help you score high marks.

  1. Visit the website
    The website contains all the details that are not part of this article. It provides all the rules and deadlines.

  2. Use the abstract format
    Download the template and follow it. There are specific details, e.g., margins and font, that every abstract should have. Limiting the abstract to one page is very important.
  3. Relate the research to the industry
    Provide context for the research. Cleary explain the purpose or goal and how it can potentially be used to better the industry. Describe how the results may impact the industry. Why do the research if it does not help solve a problem?

  4. Practice the presentation
    The presentation has a time limit of five minutes. Practice what you are going to say to ensure it stays within the timeframe. Avoid sharing too many details, which can be confusing or take too long to explain. Practicing in front of others or a camera can provide feedback on eye contact, hand movement and talking speed. Have a friend ask you questions so that you can prepare what you will say.

  5. Receive approval from sponsors
    The abstracts and presentations are more meaningful if results are shared. Sometimes the sponsor will not permit sharing data but ask early enough to find out.

  6. Be concise
    Unlike this article, there is limited space on the abstract and poster so make sure the content is important. Carefully select the best use of figures and text. A combination of both will likely be the best method to communicate the message. Ensure every word and figure provides value to the abstract or poster.

  7. Prepare a visually appealing presentation
    Making a presentation is more of an art than a science. Use a large font to attract attention from 10 feet away and a layout that is easy to follow. Consider a contrasting color scheme to highlight certain points.

  8. Know the audience
    The research is likely very specialized, and not everyone will understand it. Keep the concepts simple so that someone not as familiar with the work will comprehend what the research is and why it was important.

  9. Do not procrastinate
    Most students have many things going on in their lives, e.g., tests, reports, work, family. Waiting until the final deadline to finish a project is one method that many people use to motivate them. However, waiting until the end can cause extra pressure and errors. Finish the abstract and poster early and then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

  10. Have fun
    Part of having a successful career is enjoying what you do. While the abstract has a strict template, the presentation is your chance to show your personality. Smile and enjoy the spotlight.

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