Young Professionals Committee (YPC) Announces Inaugural AIChE 3MT®

An 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present. Their time limit... 3 minutes!

AIChE’s Young Professionals Committee (YPC) is bringing the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) to AIChE. I sat down with Dr. Shelby Mills, YPC chair, to chat about this new competition and why and how YOU can get involved. 

What is the Three Minute Thesis® Competition and what made you want to bring it to AIChE?

The University of Queensland created and held the first 3MT® competition in 2008, and since then it has become a worldwide event with competitions in at least 85 countries. My first exposure to 3MT® was at my university when I competed as a graduate student. The 3MT® competition challenges graduate students to convey the purpose, techniques, and results of their research in only three minutes with a single, static Powerpoint slide. The other challenge is to be engaging and passionate while discussing their research to a general audience. For chemical engineering students, this is often the hardest part because we don’t realize how frequently we use technical jargon. 

The YPC has been working for a number of years to bring this competition to AIChE! Many universities host their own 3MT® competitions, but by bringing the event to AIChE, ChemE students can now compete with students from around the world in the same major. We all know how diverse the chemical engineering discipline is, which makes it so exciting, but also impossible to keep up with all areas. The 3MT® competition will help bridge that gap as new research will be shared in an accessible way. Our hope is that the 3MT® will spark new innovations and collaborations among AIChE groups as well as with researchers both in academia and industry. The YPC would love to see AIChE’s 3MT® competition become a premier event highlighting the cutting-edge work of chemical engineers around the globe. 

What is the YPC’s vision for the first AIChE 3MT® Competition?

The vision for the inaugural AIChE 3MT® competition is to host a two-part competition, starting with a virtual preliminary round. In this round, graduate students will film and upload their own videos for the competition, adhering to the 3MT® virtual competition rules. The preliminary virtual round allows more graduate students to participate. Each video will be scored by a volunteer judging team composed of professional AIChE members, using a rubric looking for content comprehension and communication skills along with adherence to the established 3MT® rules. The top performing candidates will then be invited to compete at the 3MT® finals happening live and in person at the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. The 2022 3MT® Competition Finals will be open to all Annual Meeting attendees.

Who should sign up to compete, when, and why? 

Submissions for the inaugural 2022 3MT® competition will be collected from May 1, 2022 until June 3, 2022. The competition is open to PhD students who have completed their dissertation proposal, and for Master’s students graduating in 2022. The Master’s is required to be a research, thesis-based degree, and course-based Master’s students are ineligible. 

This is an excellent opportunity for graduate students to develop their “elevator pitch.” Presenting your research in a concise, meaningful manner is an invaluable skill for interviewing, networking, funding opportunities, and general conversations. This way you know your family can understand your work when you visit over the holidays. 

What can the AIChE community do to support the YPC?

Get excited and help us spread the word! Please share the news about AIChE’s 3MT® competition with your network and especially with any graduate students you know. 

If you’re eligible, we highly encourage you to sign up to compete!

The YPC is also looking for volunteer judges for both the preliminary round (can be done remotely) and for the in-person finals at the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting. Judges must be active professional AIChE members, and not enrolled in school in order to volunteer. All details (rules, rubric, etc.) will be provided to the volunteer judges. You do not have to be an expert in your field as the 3MT® presentations are geared to general audiences, and the YPC is seeking a diverse pool of volunteer judges.

If you’re planning to attend the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting, be sure to check out the live final competition round. The event date and time will be announced soon.

Is there anything else you want AIChE’s members to know about the 3MT®?

This project has been a labor of love for YPC volunteers, and I’m elated to see it come to fruition. The 3MT® is an exciting, engaging event and I am thrilled to finally introduce it to AIChE.

For more information about participating in the 3MT®, visit the competition webpage or contact the AIChE Young Professionals Committee at

The AIChE 3MT® is generously sponsored by the Career and Education Operating Council (CEOC) through funding provided by the AIChE Foundation.   

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.