Though the backdrops weren’t physically classrooms or auditoriums, PC students presented scholarly work and performed musical solos to campus. Guests used their computers or smartphones to peruse a virtual gallery from PC’s senior art student.
The academic presentations and performances went on across digital platforms for this year’s Honors Day on Thursday, April 23.
The annual symposium was held virtually for the first time, allowing for students in the College to continue the tradition of sharing the results of their academic efforts, even during a time of social distancing and online learning.
As faculty, students and other members of campus logged onto live streams and YouTube, they were able to watch presentations, posters, performances and programs from across the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and pharmacy.
Thursday was a way for presenters like physics student Emily Mitchell to share months-long work with an audience. She has been working on her project about interactive chess with partner, Preston Robinette, for a few semesters.
“We had another partner (Andrew Ellis) who worked with us at the beginning but has gone to Vanderbilt to finish his dual degree program,” Mitchell said. “We built a chessboard that would tell the user which locations a specific piece could go when picked up.
“It was very involved both with software/programming elements as well as construction and wiring. We are still in the process of completing the final board, but we did present our progress and a sample 3×3 board that worked well. It was exciting to have something to show and to have good progress done on this project.”
She and Robinette prepared by editing and practicing their talk together for a pre-recorded session. Mitchell said she missed the engagement from the traditional Q&A and the “buzz” that Honors Day creates on campus, but was glad they were able to present virtually due to the circumstances.
Emily Swanigan, who presented her research on the Algerian Revolution, was also happy to present live to her teachers, peers and those who tuned in.
“A digital presentation meant that since people couldn’t really focus on me standing in front of them, I had to be as engaging as possible in my explanations of my arguments and research,” said Swanigan, whose discussion covered anti-colonial violence and the events that led Algeria and France into war.
“The greatest reward was finally getting to talk about what I meant and how this research has defined me in the past few months.”
Honors Day organizer, Dr. Stefan Wiecki, shared he is glad the day went well and was overall successful.
“I was very glad that our first Virtual Honors Day was so well received and that students were able to share their fascinating research with the wider campus community.”
He extended thanks for the work and support of colleagues, including Sarah Burns, Kate Hanlon, Kirk Nolan, Margo Petukh, Latha Gearheart, Andrea Fuhrman, and Bob Freymeyer, mentor and the original creator of Honors Day.