For nearly two decades, the annual Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo has transformed Northeastern’s Cabot Center into a hive of activity. Rows and rows of Northeastern students eager to show off the research they’ve been working on talk animatedly to a host of judges and interested onlookers. Virtual games, various robots, and other inventions buzz along Innovation Alley. And winners are chosen for their exceptional innovations during an awards ceremony that hums with excitement.
So, how do you achieve all that during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading people out around the world?
“Given that RISE is a significant program just on the day, we take over Cabot, it’s full, it’s loud, it’s everyone sharing their research, there’s a lot of dynamism—the excitement is still there,” says Brice Tennant, who is the marketing and program manager for the Center for Research Innovation and one of the organizers of the expo that’s better known as RISE.
This year, RISE will be held over Microsoft teams video meetings. Each meeting will include the presenters and at least two RISE judges, and any guests that want to attend. The meetings last 15 minutes each, including introductions, the presentations, and a question-and-answer period.
There will be a live opening at 9:50 a.m. EDT, presentations will run from 10 a.m. EDT to 5 p.m., and there will be closing remarks at 5 p.m. Guests who wish to attend can find the meeting links on the RISE website.
The online event will feature over 350 presentations, the same number the expo usually features in person.
Tennant says the move online only highlights Northeastern’s resilience and as a surprise benefit, being virtual allows the expo to be more accessible to all of the university’s global network.
“Now RISE will be able to be expanded to all of our global footprint,” Tennant says.
RISE is an opportunity for Northeastern undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students to present their research to the Northeastern community and beyond. And for the first time since it started in 2012, it’s going virtual.
“It’s a showcase of the research we are doing but also it’s the showcase of the students themselves,” Tennant says. “They’re the ones on display here. It’s their opportunity to share what they’re passionate about and make connections.”
Presentations come from all the colleges, and include topics such as “Healthspan: Your Wellness in College and Beyond” and “Do you trust me? Personality and Behavioral Antecedents of State Trustworthiness.”
Students are eligible for a variety of awards based on their originality, significance of research, quality of the poster, and the overall presentation. A list of winners will be released on the website Friday, April 10.
To Tennant, one of the best parts of the expo is how much of the research is focused on current issues, not just the theoretical.
“Overall these presentations, no matter their creative or scholastic elements, always focus on how we can make the world better now,” Tennant says.
He says he hopes that students get the same beneficial experience online as they would in person: the ability to connect with people in their field and share their passion.
“It moves the needle on their professional and personal and academic engagement,” Tennant says. “They came to Northeastern for a reason, they are creating something for a reason, how do they bring others into that reason.”