Helping engineers become storytellers

Emily Yedinak co-chairs ComSciCon-Houston Workshop with goal of turning graduate work into a narrative.

Emily Yedinak

“We’re a workshop organized by graduate students for graduate students. The goal is: how can we become better communicators?”

Emily Yedinak is a sixth-year doctoral student in materials science and nanoengineering, and co-chair of the fourth annual ComSciCon-Houston Workshop, hosted by Rice University. The theme of this year’s workshop, to be held in 128 Herring Hall on Feb. 29-March 1, is storytelling.

“We want grad students to be able to turn their work into narrative, make it compelling to people in their field and people outside of their field,” Yedinak said.

Attendance is open to masters and doctoral candidates in the Houston region, and graduate students from Rice, University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson Cancer Center have already signed up to participate.

They will take part in panel/workshops devoted to written, visual and oral communication. Focus areas will include the basics of effective oral presentation, designing abstract graphics to illustrate technical concepts, writing about research at a level accessible to wider audiences, and combining improvisation and storytelling.

The keynote speaker will be Nicole Bennett, doctoral student and research associate in the Science and Technology Communication Lab at the Stan Richards School for Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin.

“The students will take part in elevator chalk talks. They’ll have three minutes to tell their stories, and will be judged by panels of experts,” Yedinak said.

Nationally, ComSciCon was founded by graduate students at Harvard University in 2012, and has since grown into numerous regional affiliates.