On Thursday, April 24, UTSA’s first Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase will take place in the University Center. The showcase is designed to give undergraduate students across all areas of academic inquiry a place to exhibit their work.
The showcase, the brainchild of Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Dr. Donovan Fogt, will be the first time undergraduate students display their projects in one area and will allow students from different colleges to see just how other disciplines use research.
“Throughout the year, there are always departmental or college research days that are dominated by graduate students,” Fogt stated. “And the undergrads are just not coming to the surface; we don’t see their work.”
In April 2013, Fogt made the showcase one of his key initiatives. After several meetings with various deans and department chairs urging them to involve students from their colleges, the exhibition slowly began taking shape.
Fogt hopes that this year’s showcase will be the first of many annual expositions. In setting up the inaugural event he hesitantly aimed for 200 participants.
“In the back of my mind, I thought, ‘If I can get five students presenting, I’ll be happy.’ ”
“I can’t believe it – 200! I am literally out of space,” Fogt said. “I think next year we’ll need to use the Convocation Center.”
This year, however, the showcase has the space to display up to 200 posters representing students’ research projects. In addition, there will be several projects inviting visitors to see tangible models. Those projects that will not fit in the UC Ballroom will be placed in hallways, common areas and even outside along the Paseo walkway.
Two of those models, created by engineering students, will be Rube Goldberg-type machines.
“I actually went to the students’ presentations and said, ‘These have to be in my showcase.’ So they chose the top seven and they’ll be displayed outside the ballroom.”
One group of music students took a Beethoven piece and wrote it out on a 60-foot sheet of butcher paper. Dividing the piece into sections, the students analyzed the work and asked questions about its historical relevance and its influence on today’s music.
“I’m struggling to find a place in the UC that will accommodate a 60-foot-long poster,” Dr. Fogt chuckled.
Senior art major Jennifer Kennedy will be exhibiting some of her work at the showcase. The Web specialist intern at UTSA’s Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (TSERI) created a sculpture that will hang in the UC. Like many of the student presenters, Kennedy is excited to show off her work, but even more so because her sculpture project focuses on sharing interdisciplinary work.
“I think it’s phenomenal that Dr. Fogt had the idea for the showcase because it’s actually a fundamental component of the written portion of my thesis,” Kennedy said.
Fogt hopes the showcase will generate the same excitement for all of the participants, as well as the visitors.
“I want the provost, and I want the vice-presidents, and the deans and the students to say ‘Wow! Undergraduate research is huge on campus!’ Which it is, but this is a way of getting exposure,” Fogt added.
The showcase should help bolster the undergraduates’ confidence in their work, and Fogt believes can lead to a better sense of self-worth.
“We’re trying to instill in them the idea that they’re not biology majors; they’re not ‘studying biology,’ they are young biologists,” Fogt said. “They are young artists, they’re not ‘studying art.’
The Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase will run April 24 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Visitors can pick up a free t-shirt and enter to win one of four Kindle Fire HDs.