Posters: A means for both technical and social communication

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Conference Proceeding
SEFI 37th Annual Conference 2009, 2009
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Posters are used to convey information concisely and clearly. It requires judgement to decide on how much information to include, whether this information should be presented in a graphical or textual form, and how to organise the information in the space of the poster. A poster is the initial assessment task at the short course run by the International Institute of Women in Engineering (IIWE) at EPF, Ecole d'ingenieurs generaliste, and in association with ParisX1 University. This three week short course has been offered since 2001 and is intended for recently graduated or final year engineering students from diverse cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The poster was chosen as the initial assessment task because young professionals are generally asked to present in this way at professional conferences. There were several aims associated with use of the poster: 1. to develop students' poster making skills 2. to help students who are shy or lacking confidence in English skills to be able to have a means of communication with each other and with staff 3. to initiate the discussion around the sustainability theme of the course. The poster display also defines the participants' space in a foreign university - it defines 'our space' for the duration of the course. The posters are assessed against criteria for both content and visual impact by three members of staff who provide feedback to the participants. An award for best poster is presented at the end of the course to recognise the skill involved in creating an effective poster. Participants in the 2008 IIWE course were surveyed to determine the effectiveness of presenting and using a poster considering these aims. This paper shows that the response was very positive in regards to the poster being useful for both gaining an understanding of fellow participants and their discipline and cultural diversity. The introduction of the concept of the individual environmental footprint and its link to the sustainability theme of the workshop was not so obvious to the participants and requires further development by the authors.
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