A speed-dating science competition

Pennsylvania State University students participate in a contest to condense years of research into a two minute pitch.  The competition helps students hone communication skills and is even dubbed as “Science Speed Dating.”


In this next segment, Pennsylvania State University students participate in a contest to condense years of research into a 2-minute pitch.

The competition helps students hone communication skills.

Take a look at the event dubbed Science Speed Dating.

The Millennium Science Complex at Penn State is home to some mind-blowing science, but if you don't live it and breathe it every day, trying to understand some of the work that happens here can leave you with a headache.

That's why these Penn State grad students are attempting to turn years' worth of research into a 2-minute pitch for the Millennium Café Pitch Competition.

It's a big draw, 36 contestants eyeing a $750 first-place prize, but to get the cash, they'll need to convince the judges by coming up with a clear message about the importance and impact of their research, something that doesn't come naturally.

On the fight against the evil society, greenhouse gases, got to stay tuned to find out.

In the sciences, you work from the smallest detail down to the biggest picture.

That's typically how you structure your scientific message, but in this type of pitch competition, it's just the opposite.

You start with the biggest picture, and then you kind of go into the nitty-gritty details.

The high-pressure speed-dating setup doesn't help either.

Three, two, one.


Take a quick look around.

You'll notice different styles, from the casual coffee chat to superheroes.

It may seem like fun and games, but a contest like this is all about molding the next generation of scientists and leaders.

It's a great opportunity for students to develop skill sets in communications.

Really, aside from technical prowess, technical background, we find communication skills are critically important.

You'll see some people that really rise to the top that have this natural talent that maybe was even unknownst to them.

Number one...

After the first round, scores are tallied, and the top five are announced.

Top five.

[ Applause ]

Nerves are high.

Please wait a second.

But this is the finals.

I'm a little bit nervous.


The pitches are finely tuned.

If you could have an invisibility cloak, what would you use it for?

And the best grab your attention from the very beginning.

It's estimated that over 600,000 people will die from cancer this year.

To fight this, I am creating personalized surgical tools to customize cancer treatment for each individual.

A clear message with a real-world impact front and center.

For that, Brad Hanks walked away with the top prize.

But like his pitch, he's focused on the big picture.

I have to contribute some, at least, to my wife.

She helped me practice a ton, and I have two little boys at home, so I'm sure some of it will go towards diapers and whatever else they need.