Campus Life

Civil Engineering Doctoral Student Wins 2022-23 Three Minute Thesis Finals

Chih-Shen Cheng will represent Texas A&M in the regional 3MT research presentation competition in the spring.
By Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Graduate and Professional School November 14, 2022

3MT winner Chih-Shen Cheng with Professor Fuhui Tong
3MT winner Chih-Shen Cheng with Professor Fuhui Tong

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


Chih-Shen Cheng took top honors at the 10th annual Texas A&M Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition last week. Cheng placed first in the doctoral division and the overall competition for his presentation, “Artificial Intelligence and Drones for Disaster Recovery.”

Cheng will go on to represent Texas A&M at the 3MT regional competition in Tampa, Florida, in March. His department, civil and environmental engineering, will claim possession of the Texas A&M 3MT winners cup until it’s up for grabs again at next year’s competition.

Other winners in the doctoral category were runner up Farid Saemi from aerospace engineering for his presentation, “Electric Airplanes (Batteries Included),” and Debasish Mishra from the biological and agricultural engineering program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, whose presentation “Why, When and How: Hydrological Catastrophes under Climate Crisis,” won the people’s choice award.

In the master’s category, chemical engineering student Smita Shivraj Dasari won first place and the people’s choice award for her presentation, “Recycling Carbon Fibers Using Electricity.” Brooke McAnally from the physiology of reproduction program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences placed second with “Obstacles Facing the Sperm on Its Journey to the Egg.”


Chih-Shen Cheng presenting
In his presentation, Cheng described how, as a structural engineer in 2016, he surveyed damage caused by an earthquake in his hometown in Taiwan.

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


It was a strong showing on the night overall for the College of Engineering, which became just the second college or school to have more than one winner (the other is the former College of Geosciences — now in the newly formed College of Arts and Sciences).

The Graduate and Professional School, along with co-sponsors the Center for Teaching Excellence – English Language Proficiency Program and the University Writing Center, hosted the event in Rudder Forum before a live audience and streamed for viewers worldwide on Zoom.

The 3MT competition, developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2008, gives students three minutes to present a compelling oration of their research and its significance to a general audience, using just one slide. The event has garnered worldwide popularity as a vehicle to help students develop their presentation skills and as a venue to showcase student research.

Five judges from the Texas A&M campus and greater Bryan-College Station community evaluated presenters based on two criteria: presentation content and the competitor’s ability to convey that content in an engaging and clear way. In both the master’s and doctoral categories winners earned $1,000 for first place, $500 for runner-up, and $500 for the people’s choice award.

Cheng was humbled by his win. “I cannot believe it,” he said. “The other finalists were all so excellent this year.”

And he was grateful for others’ support. “All the credit for this award should be given to the department, my advisors, my colleagues and friends, and my family,” Cheng said. “I want to thank my dear friend, Dr. Namgyun Kim [the 2021-2022 3MT winner from construction science]. He gave me valuable suggestions and feedback. I am also thankful for the strong support of my department and particularly my advisors, Dr. Arash Noshadravan and Dr. Amir H. Behzadan.”

In his presentation, Cheng described how, as a structural engineer in 2016, he surveyed damage caused by an earthquake in his hometown in Taiwan. The process, he explained, was dangerous and time-consuming and motivated him to research better alternatives for damage assessment.

It’s that passion to seek a safer and faster – and thus life-saving – alternative that has led to Cheng’s success, according to his faculty advisors, Noshadravan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Behzadan, Department of Construction Science.


2022 3MT participants
2022 3MT participants

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


“Chih-Shen’s success is a reflection of his dedication to his work,” said Noshadravan. And Behzadan added, “Chih-Shen is passionate about his research, which offers a unique window into using artificial intelligence to create engineering solutions that can save lives and lead to a more resilient built environment.”

Zachary Grasley, department head in civil and environmental engineering, was proud of Chih-Shen and what his win means for his department. “Chih-Shen’s win validates our efforts to recruit talented Ph.D. students and provide them with a fantastic education, highlighted by impactful research opportunities and high-quality mentorship. We are very proud of him and his representation of our department at Texas A&M and beyond, and we are thankful for Dr. Arash Noshadravan’s dedication to his Ph.D. students’ success,” Grasley said.

Fuhui Tong, interim dean of the Graduate and Professional School, said all the finalists are a credit to the excellence of Texas A&M’s graduate programs across the board. “Our presenters provided a great highlight for the high-level research graduate students at Texas A&M are doing that will make an impact on our world,” Tong said.

Cheng is already looking forward to the next round of competition. “I am honored to represent Texas A&M at the regional level, and I will do my best,” he said.

Media contact: Rob Dixon, 979-845-3631,

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