Thesis fair celebrates student accomplishment

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Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 8:37 pm | Updated: 9:17 pm, Sun May 18, 2014.

130 graduates share thesis projects, research, collaboration

Thermodynamics, toxicological assessment, salaries in the NBA, transgenic biotechnology, the philosophy of leadership, colonial Latin America, zebrafish and dynamic time warping. 

These are just a few of the theses the graduating class from the University Honors College’s presented during the annual thesis fair Friday. 

“This is our largest fair ever,” said LeeAnn Baker, University Honors College director of student success and engagement. 

With nearly 130 projects, the Valley Library rotunda and surrounding hallways were full of student thesis posters.

After completing and defending an honors thesis, students then earn an honors baccalaureate degree in accompaniment to their chosen major.

“Students spend typically four terms working with a faculty member on campus through mentorship,” Baker said. 

The collaboration with faculty during this process is a way for students to engage with campus resources and explore options post graduation. Students create theses in a variety of disciplines, whether in preparation for graduate school or for entering the work force. 

“We are represented by every undergraduate college,” Baker said. 

As such, the thesis projects cover a wide range of projects across disciplines, and students are not required to choose a project that is in their major department. 

Alexandra McConnell will be receiving her degree in electrical and computer engineering this spring, but she chose to do her thesis with a mentor from the School of Design and Human Environment.  

“I’ve been doing sewing, weaving and knitting all my life,” McConnell said. “I do medieval recreationism, and this fit right in.” 

As part of her project, “Re-Examining Medieval Irish Women’s Dress between 750 and 900 CE,” McConnell sewed a dress as a recreation of what Irish women may have worn.  

“I constructed it as an approximation based on the other evidence that was available,” McConnell said. 

Kyle Thompson, on the other hand, chose a thesis topic in very close relation to his upcoming degree in electrical engineering. In his project, “Designing for the Future: A Software Architecture Inspired by Internationally Developed Virtual Laboratories,” Thompson created a virtual version of the laboratories he has used in electrical engineering courses. 

“This is a virtual version of those lab experiences,” Thompson said.

Simulating the lab experience can save time and money with the investment of physical lab equipment.

“You can achieve things in a virtual lab that you can’t in a physical lab,” Thompson said. 

Shireen Weik, graduating with a major in sociology and a minor in business entrepreneurship, was also interested in the hands-on aspects of her education. Her thesis is titled “Developing the next generation of corporate social responsibility employees: the case of Enactus at Oregon State University.”

Enactus is an international organization that focuses on helping university students practice business skills like entrepreneurship, finances and ethics in real-world situations.

“How are you able to apply what you learn in the classroom in the real world?” Weik asked in her thesis. 

Applying the concepts learned in the classroom is a central goal of the thesis program. The fair allowed students to display their accomplishments over the course of the thesis project and as a summation of their undergraduate education.

“This is our event to celebrate,” Baker said.

Emma-Kate Schaake

City reporter

managing@dailybarometer.com

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