I would like to ask if you think that organizing an international thesis competition is a good way to bridge the gap between students (mostly graduates) and companies. The idea is to have jury members of industry partners and alumni, which will have access to and judge the theses and thus:

  1. Students and graduates will be able to make hopefully valuable connections
  2. Businesses will profit from having an insight of what young people write about.

Is organizing a thesis competition likely to be a fruitful endeavor?

  • 4
    It takes a lot of work to read a thesis and most businesses will not profit from reading a thesis, even one that is about a similar area. – StrongBad Dec 2 '14 at 14:05
  • The idea of connecting people is good, as @StrongBad points out, its a good deal of work to read a thesis. It may be more worthwhile to hold a competition in which people submit 1 to 5 page papers about their thesis (similar to an article). This would also make contributions from students more likely if they have written a publication on their work – user-2147482637 Dec 2 '14 at 14:42
  • Also note that even when the knowledge can be transferred, the interests of Academia and Industry are not fully aligned. It is usually the broader knowledge of the field that has market value. – Davidmh Dec 2 '14 at 15:28

It would be very hard to judge these things due to a dearth of objective criteria. Also, getting a panel of widely knowledgeable, senior employees (whose time is short and expensive) to each read and judge at least several theses just isn't feasible - and that's assuming that the field is narrow enough that the judges have the expertise to understand every thesis.

Unless you have a vested and very specific interest in the thesis, there just isn't any point in reading it. A short presentation or abstract is really all that's necessary to get the gist of the research.

A much better solution would be a thesis presentation competition. My old university did a university-wide "thesis in three" competition every year. Entrants had three minutes to give a presentation on their research, in front of a general audience and a panel of judges from all disciplines (a more specialized competition could allocate more time).

This could have many advantages, including:

  • the panel will be able to view all of the presentations in less time than it takes to read just one thesis
  • it assesses a very valuable real-world skill: the ability to distil a complicated piece of work into a simple and exciting nutshell
  • you can see someone's enthusiasm for a topic
  • gathering for drinks and dinner after the presentations will be a fantastic networking opportunity. Job offers could be flying about all over the place.

In the age of the internet, it would be easy to ask participants to create a video presentation if they cannot attend the event (possibly even in the style of a YouTube educational video, with narrated drawings / animations). This way, no one needs to travel across the country or world.

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