YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Here’s a challenge. Take a college thesis project that a student has spent a year researching and in three minutes have the student explain it to a general audience. First News anchor Stan Boney judged that competition Thursday evening at Youngstown State University.

Prakriti Dhungana is working on a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

“This gauze separates the environment and the wound.” Her thesis was on a Smart Wound Dressing.

“We are trying to locate the hotspots of the pollutants in Mill Creek Park,” said Mohd Ansari.

Ansari’s master’s degree will be in civil and environmental engineering.

The two were among the six finalists Thursday evening competing in the Three Minute Thesis Competition.

“Some of these are very technical topics that might be a publication of about 50 to 150 pages. They have to explain that to an intelligent audience in about three minutes,” said Dr. Sal Sanders, dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

“We’re trying to predict the future precipitation that might be until the end of the century,” said Samir Mainali.

The winner was Mainali of Nepal, who’s in the civil and environmental engineering program.

A five-judge panel, including Boney, concluded that Mainali did the best job of explaining how climate change has affected rainfall and flooding in the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby.

“It’s been more than a year that I’ve been working on this research and doing a lot of jobs. Eventually, the hard work pays off,” Mainali said.

“I had high expectations I suppose and the students blew it away,” said Dr. Christopher Arntsen, an assistant professor of chemistry.

He said what the students did was not easy.

“It’s very difficult to explain science to a general audience and especially in three minutes. So they did a very nice job explaining the background, explaining the methods and the results,” Dr. Arntsen said.

Another good thing for Mainali — his win came with a $300 prize.

Boney: “Was it nice to win $300?”
Mainali: “Yeah, in fact, yes. It was good.”

The first Three Minute Thesis Competition was held in 2008 in Queensland, Australia. YSU has been doing it for six years.

The winner at YSU can now move on to a regional competition, but it has not yet been decided if he’ll go.