Vizzies Award Ceremony recognizes engineering research, diverse community

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — There was an air of celebration and comradery in the E-Knowledge Commons on Jan. 26, as the graduate students, staff and faculty of Penn State’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (MNE) gathered to celebrate the second annual Vizzies Award Ceremony.

Inspired by a similar competition held by the National Science Foundation (NSF), graduate students were challenged to submit visually engaging representations of their research.

Mary Frecker, associate head for graduate programs, said of the event, “This is a great opportunity to recognize our students’ unique research accomplishments.”

“Getting people to think about their technical work as art is a great exercise in scientific communication,” Katie Kirsch, a post-doctoral researcher who won first place in the competition, said.

“Putting an artistic spin on your work is a great way to potentially attract a wide audience and pique their interest in the research question you're trying to answer.”

Coupled with an International Food Festival, graduate students from Mexico, China and India, among others, gathered for a lunch featuring cuisine from all over the world.

Frecker added, “Our goal for the event was also to celebrate the diverse, welcoming community we have in the department and reflect their different cultures.”

The second-place winner was Shikha Ebrahim, a doctoral student, for her submission, “Wetting and Spreading Dynamics." Jesse Gerber, a master's student, took third place with a picture titled, “Anoxal damage in the white matter region of the brain."

The event also featured a People’s Choice Award, where the larger Penn State community was invited to vote for their favorite visual on Facebook. With more than 400 likes, Carlos Ulises Gonzalez-Valle, a doctoral student, won with “Heat Sinks: Redefining the Art of Heat Dissipation."

The winning submissions will be displayed in the MNE graduate office, along with last year’s winners.

Last Updated February 08, 2018