Freshman Research at SxSWedu!

March 08, 2016

On Monday (7th March), Freshman Research Initiative held a panel discussion on undergraduate research at the University of Texas at Austin. The panel included Erin Dolan (Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science), Stacia Rodenbusch (Director of the Freshman Research Initiative), Dennis Mishler (Clinical Assistant Professor for the Microbe Hackers course), and myself (as the Instructor for the System Security course). This post is a quick summary of lessons learned from the event.

First of all, it looks like session titles matter way more than the abstract! Poster stands outside of the meeting rooms contained just names of the panels. With no description to go off of, a number of people were arguably making a last-minute decision to attend one session or another based on the title itself.

Second, the SXSWedu audience was mostly comprised of administrators (or so it seemed). Now this may not be a surprise to you, but it was to me, since I went there thinking that the audience would mostly contain entrepreneurs, teachers (including would-be teachers), and university faculty (those engaging in research as well as teaching). While I did meet with some entrepreneurs, our session seemed to have attracted mostly administrative members. While it was certainly good to have inquisitive and curious audience members asking great questions, I feel like we could have done a better job at attracting frontline teachers and educators.

Finally, is a great tool for taking questions! Thanks to the representative from who helped us set up the forum. In case you haven’t heard of, it is a platform for managing questions during a public event (like our panel discussion). Audience members can submit and up-vote (or down-vote) questions.

I certainly had fun at SxSWedu, and I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to speak about a topic that is not just relevant but also invigorating for me!

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