Tech graduate students convened for the second annual Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference (GTRIC) on Tuesday, Feb. 8. The SGA-organized event hosted two poster sessions that included approximately 400 graduate research projects and gave away $85,000 in prizes and grants to the participants. In addition, an Innovation Competition was held the previous night.
GTRIC is geared toward the graduate students at Tech to showcase their research to the campus community at large.
“Its goals are twofold,” said Lauren Polander, lead SGA organizer for GTRIC and CHEM PhD candidate. “One is to bring together all the research in the different colleges of the university and to recognize their excellence. The other part is that GTRIC is an educational conference; entries are judged on a rubric by professors, and we encourage the professors to give feedback.”
GTRIC originated out of an initiative by graduate SGA that recognized a need for Tech graduate students to make their work more visible within the community. It grew significantly this year.
“We had really positive feedback from last year’s event,” said Jason Okerman, vice president of communications of SGA and ECE PhD candidate. “We had a lot of PhD’s and Master’s folks participate, as well as a huge participation from members of the faculty.”
GTRIC fulfills the role of facilitating better visibility of graduate research within Tech’s own community. As a result, GTRIC is uniquely interdisciplinary and presents research projects from across all the different colleges at Tech, distinct from most other conferences which are generally organized by field.
The research projects at GTRIC spanned six different colleges within Tech and included topics ranging from “Agent-based Modeling of Interaction between Commercial Building Stocks and Power Grid”, by Fei Zhao, ARCH PhD candidate, to “Using Experimental Methods in Fluid Mechanics to Build Bio-physical Tools for Marine Ecosystem Conservation”, by Aaron True, a CE PhD candidate.
“I’m really impressed with the quality of research, and more over, the diversity of graduate research. Last year, I only judged projects in my field, but this year I had a chance to see projects in the other college,” said Julie Champion, ChBE professor.
Students singled out the ability to view research from departments other than their own as one of the event’s drawing points. Their interaction with other research students is not as deep as with their peers in the same field.
“I know what research is going on within my own department, but this conference gives [me] a chance to see research outside of that. It’s important to be able to communicate your ideas effectively to a more general audience,” said Parisa Pooyan, a ME PhD candidate, whose research is on the fabrication of a graft structure for cardiovascular tissue engineering.
Parallel to the poster competition was the Innovation Competition that took place on Monday, where 10 finalists, out of over 100 entrants, gave five minute pitches in front of a panel of judges. The competition was held for the first time this year. The Innovation Competition gave out a $15,000 prize to a topic that has startup potential.
This year’s winning entry came from Craig Tashman, a CS PhD candidate, whose project was called LiquidText, a more fluid way to manipulate text documents using a type of multi-touch technology.

Photo by Tiara Winata