What is SEDTalks!?

SEDTalks! is an educational and skills-building training and workshop series for graduate students in McGill's Faculty of Engineering. 

SEDTalks! provides support to graduate students at all skill levels working on sustainability-related research so that they may develop valuable professional skills in public-speaking, communicating sustainability science and engineering to a wider audience, expanding their academic and industrial networks, and working with researchers to further advance sustainable engineering and design in one of these three areas:

  • Sustainable Industrial Processes & Manufacturing
  • Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
  • Sustainable Urban Infrastructure & Transportation
  • Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience

No matter your skill level, no matter how (un)comfortable you are with public speaking, you will learn something with SEDTalks. Whether you need to practice public-speaking for an upcoming academic conference, hope to show off your communication skills in a 3 minute thesis competition, need to build important career skills and don't know where to start, or just want to share your research with the world, SEDTalks is for you!

There are two phases of the SEDTalks Program:

PHASE I: In the first phase, which takes place in the Fall semester, all applicants will participate in a series of group training and workshops aimed at learning and practicing communication, presentation, and networking skills. At the end of the Fall semester, the applicants are invited to take part in a mock '3 minute thesis' competition, incorporating many of the skills they've learned in the program, in front of their SEDTalks peers and a Selection Committee. The Committee selects 3 students to continue in the second phase of the program, which takes place over the winter semester. Applicants who are not selected have the option of continuing 3MT training with SKILLSETS.

PHASE II: In the second phase of the program, the selected graduate students, known as "ChangeMakers", receive personalized coaching to prepare a 'TEDtalk' style presentation of their work which they will deliver at a networking event organized by TISED in March. Invited event guests include industry professionals, researchers, faculty members, alumni, donors who support SEDTalks!, and others - this event is really about you and the audience you want to reach! Changemakers also receive a bursary ($500) for their participation in the program, as well as free networking cards and professional portraits, and a video of their SEDTalk will be available online.


Apply now for the 2018-2019 SEDTalks Program!


Training & Skills-Building

Graduate students in the SEDTalks program receive professional training to build networking and communication skills. Through coaching and practice sessions, students receive practical feedback on their performance and can see their progress over time. Some of the skills students will master include:

Communication Presentation Networking

Translate your research for non-specialists without “dumbing it down”

PowerPoint : the Do’s & Don’ts

Create effective business cards

Keep audiences engaged

Data visualization

Make academic and industry connections

Lead effective discussions & handle tough questions

Lightning talks Get professional portraits
Make an impact in sustainability  Video practice sessions Boost your CV

Phase I, which occurs during the Fall semester and is open to all SEDTalks applicants, will include 3 to 5 training sessions, each 1 to 3 hours each, and may focus on building skills on any of the above communication, presentation, and networking topics. Training and workshops are led by academic and professional trainers. You may be asked to prepare a short practice presentation in advance. Please note that attendance to all sessions of Phase I is not required, but encouraged. We understand that students may have busy schedules and we do our best to accommodate everyone.

If you are selected for Phase II, you will receive personalized coaching and work on an 18-minute presentation; this may require a greater time commitment, and although you will be learning important career skills along the way, it is important that you have your supervisor's full support.


How to Apply to SEDTalks!


You are eligible to participate in the SEDTalks! program if:

  • You are a graduate student in McGill's Faculty of Engineering and your research is sustainability related 
  • You have, or can obtain after your submission, a Letter of Support (email acceptable) from your Supervisor or Advisor to participate
  • You have a brief description of your work that answers these questions:
    • Why is your research important to the science or practice of engineering and design, and how is it related to sustainability?
    • Why is your research important to the general public?
    • Why is your research important to the academic and/or policymaker and/or professional community (industry, government, researchers, etc.)?

Selection of ChangeMakers in the second phase of the program is based on several factors, including an evaluation of the student's application form, support from the student's supervisor, the student's presentation topic and research field, the student's performance at the mock 3MT competition, the student's participation and progress during training in Phase 1, etc.  


Timeline & Important Dates

  • Applications: Application webforms must be submitted by September 28 2018.
  • Training Phase I (All applicants): All applicants are invited to participate in Group Training and Workshops, about 3 to 5 sessions throughout October and November 2018. The group training will prepare you for both SEDTalks and the 3MT competition.
  • Selection of ChangeMakers: Phase I participants may present a 3MT-style presentation to the selection committee in late November or early December 2018. The selection committee will select 3 ChangeMakers among the presenters to move on to the Phase II. Participants not selected for Phase II may continue training for the 3MT competition with Skillsets (optional).
  • Training Phase II (ChangeMakers only):  ChangeMakers will go on to develop SEDTalks presentations during January and February 2019 with personalised training and practice rounds with professional coaches, TISED, and peers. You will receive networking cards and in-lab portraits.
  • SEDTalks Event: The SEDTalks presentation and networking event will showcase the ChangeMakers 18-minute presentations, followed by a networking cocktail, held in March 2019.



To apply, you must fill out the application webform here. Application deadline is September 28 2018.

Have a written description of your submission ready. Please note that you cannot save your application for later.


Past SEDTalks! ChangeMakers & Testimonials

Since 2016, our "SEDTalks! ChangeMakers" have received coaching from researchers and trainers so they could give a presentation of their great work in sustainable engineering and design. See more about our past ChangeMakers, read what students in the program have to say about their experience in the program, and watch the SEDTalks videos on YouTube!