Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First Poster

I printed out my first poster today for next week's Pavement LCA 2014 conference today and it was quite an experience making it. Unlike most people here at Illinois who use PowerPoint, I used Publisher because it allows me to better configure elements (and create elements too, although I figured that out a lot later). But software can only get you so far - a lot of creativity goes into making a poster. Unfortunately, as one website pointed out, the people who mostly use posters (engineers and scientists) are also those whose work does not really consider the human element of a presentation. So my first reaction, as an engineer, was to stuff the poster with text and information so that anyone who saw it could instantly understand (and maybe appreciate) what I did.

Alas, that's not how it's done! As some fellow grad students were kind enough to point out, if your poster is self-explanatory, then why would anybody need to talk to you about it? Good point! So, it was back to the drawing board to eliminate text and this create version 2 (yes, this happens with posters too). This one looked good, but my adviser wanted an ever more radical reduction in text. It turns out there are two types of poster: those for live presentation at a conference, and those for passive reading on a corridor somewhere (in ATREL, in this case). Since this was for a conference, I had to design a new poster with a big picture, which I would use to explain everything that I did.

And all this with the clock ticking away - the conference is less than a week away now! It's hard to believe that I'm actually going to it; I started working on the paper in January and it went through 6 iterations, endless discussion and updates after review. And with this poster, I'm finally done.

Except - what does one do at a conference? That's a question I fear I'll have only one way to answer... 

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