Screech-peat: Brame again wins pitch competition

More than 250 attend second RCEL ‘elevator pitch’ contest

Special to the Rice News

With rock-concert energy and volume, more than 250 students, faculty and staff kicked off the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership’s (RCEL) second annual Screech Competition Oct. 10.

The fast-paced, highly competitive event held in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium featured 37 engineering graduate students giving 90-second “elevator pitches” — or “screeches” — about their research. For the second year in a row, the winning pitch was delivered by Jonathan Brame, a fifth-year graduate student in computational and applied mathematics.

Jonathon Brame

Jonathon Brame

Brame’s screech, in the category Engineering for Natural Resources: Empowering Responsible Development and Distribution of Resources, was titled “Reactive Oxygen Scavengers: Sapping the Strength of Water Treatment.”

“Topics ranged from how to inform people in hurricane-prone areas of impending danger to preventing the spread of cancer cells through the blood stream — an amazing variety,” said Kaz Karwowski, RCEL’s executive director. “Jon Brame used colloquial language from ‘Star Wars’ to describe his technology in a way that brought quick understanding of complex technologies to his audience.”

Mark Embree, the John and Ann Doerr Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics (CAAM) and former co-director of RCEL, said he was pleased that most of the entrants were first-time screech participants. He stressed the importance of young engineers learning to “sell” their research clearly and persuasively.

RCEL's 2013 Screech Competition drew 250 competitors and spectators Oct. 10

Second prize went to Mohit Kumar Jolly in bioengineering (BIOE), whose pitch was titled “How Cancer Spreads Throughout Your Body.” Placing third overall was Josue Salazar in CAAM: “Prediction of Hurricane Wind Structural Damage in Real-time.”

Here are the “Best-in-Flight” winners in each category:

  • Engineering for Life: “Advancing our Understanding of the Brain and Body” by Emily Hendryx,  Department of CAAM.
  • Engineering for Smarter Devices: “Increasing the Power and Usefulness of Everyday Gadgets” by Sailesh Prabhu, Department of Computer Science.
  • Engineering for Natural Resources: “Empowering Effective Development and Distribution of Resources” by Varun Shenoy Gangoli, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
  • Engineering for Connectivity: “Improving the Performance of Networks and Other Connected Systems” by Corina Ionita, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).
  • Engineering for New Knowledge: “Discovering Patterns and Insights Through Analysis of Expansive Datasets” by Caleb Magruder, Department of ECE.
  • People’s Choice Award: Mohit Kumar Jolly, Department of BIOE.
  • Best Department: CAAM.

For videos of the screeches, see

–Patrick Kurp is a science writer in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.

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