Moraine Valley Community College hosted the annual Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference poster competition in a virtual format for the first time. A few projects completed by Moraine Valley students also earned first place awards.

The competition is designed to encourage participation in STEM-related disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Projects are evaluated on the participants’ ability to use the methodology of their respective fields as well as rational and logical thinking to answer a related question.

This annual one-day event typically has eight community colleges compete in person. However, due to the pandemic, organizers had to move the entire process online from submitting entries and judging to the awards ceremony and display, a nearly two-week endeavor. Twenty-one teams participated and volunteers from the Argonne National Laboratory were judges.

In the Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology category, two Moraine Valley projects tied for first – “Unconventional Monetary Policy and Its Effect on Inflation, Unemployment, and Asset Prices” and “Heated Mirrors and Safer Driving.” Moraine Valley also took first in Environmental Biology for “A New Ocean Microplastic Detection and Removal Method that also Reduces Environmental Impact.”

“Due to the 2020 competition being canceled, our planning team was determined to move forward to create a space where students could conduct and share their research in a meaningful way. These students were creative in determining their topics, conducting research in the middle of a pandemic and presenting online to the judges,” said Dr. Lisa Kelsay, Moraine Valley assistant dean of Liberal Arts. “Planning for 2021 required a lot of innovation, brainstorming, testing with information technology staff and organization from everyone involved. Judges commented that the topics presented by these students were beyond what they did as freshman and sophomores and were impressed by all of the teams.”

In past years, participants walked around to view the posters and learn about the research. To give students the same opportunity, Kelsay said they created an online poster gallery.