CWU to highlight student research at next week’s SOURCE conference

  • May 8, 2024
  • Rune Torgersen

Central Washington University’s annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) provides undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to showcase their hard work and research skills in front of a panel of their professors and peers.

The 29th annual conference will be held May 15-16 in the SURC, featuring presentations and posters from across all disciplines represented at CWU, as well as guest presentations from local high schools and international partner institutions.

Director of Undergraduate Research Hideki Takei, who is overseeing this year’s event, said the conference brings CWU together in a way no other event does.

“This year’s SOURCE is unique because we’re seeing the entire CWU community come together to celebrate the innovations and advances of our students,” he said. “It’s not often we get to collaborate on this massive scale, and everyone is so engaged.”

The 2024 conference has mobilized more faculty volunteers than ever before, with 105 instructors lending their expertise and support. Landen Hashimura, a graduate student studying cultural and environmental resource management, said his experience presenting at SOURCE as an undergraduate helped him see that he had a future in research thanks to faculty involvement.

“SOURCE is a great way for students to get used to receiving and implementing constructive criticism from a crowd of peers who might be more familiar with the subject,” he said. “It can be super scary to present in front of a crowd of total strangers, so students seeing their professors and colleagues in the mix helps make that intermediate step a whole lot easier.”

Hashimura will be presenting an early draft of his master’s thesis on the feasibility of high-speed rail infrastructure in Washington, in order to gain critical feedback on his methodology and try his hand at a poster-style presentation.

“Stepping out of my comfort zone with a poster is really exciting, and gives me the opportunity to get different feedback than I would on a verbal presentation,” he said. “I’m glad SOURCE offers us flexibility in the kinds of presentations we can bring to the table.”

Some students come to SOURCE to get a taste of what collegiate-level research is like, while others come seeking industry feedback and the connections the conference offers. IT Management graduate student Kevin Lomax presented his concept for an environmentally sustainable, easily repairable smartphone at last year’s conference as an undergraduate, and he has been able to leverage the industry connections he made last year to improve on his plan and get closer to his goal of revolutionizing the handheld technology industry.

“SOURCE opened so many doors for our project, including being asked to present to the IT Management advisory board,” he said. “Being able to get input on our device from industry leaders really put some wind in our sails, and you can never have too much public speaking experience, either.”

The first SOURCE conference was held in 1995, and since then, it has expanded and improved with each successive year. This year, a prototype for a SOURCE virtual reality experience will be demonstrated, which could potentially allow future conferences to better include students studying online or at one of our University Centers across the state.

The papers that accompany students’ research projects will also be published in the annual SOURCE journal, which is classified as a scientific journal. As such, will be included in the Library of Congress. Thanks to this approach, every student who presents this year can tell future employers that they’ve had their research published.

“When you present at SOURCE, not only are you publishing research; you’re also demonstrating that you can present that research outside of a classroom,” Takei said. “When employers ask you what you did in college, that’s the kind of thing they want to hear about.”

Ultimately, SOURCE exists to let any student of any discipline take their trade out of the classroom and into the limelight.

“The world isn’t made of textbook problems,” Hashimura said. “The reason we go to school is so we can go out and solve big-picture problems, regardless of what field you’re in. Research is the best way to get ready for that, and SOURCE is a fantastic opportunity to get started while you’re still earning your bachelor’s degree.”

For more information on the 2024 SOURCE conference, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research’s SOURCE website.

 

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