Quest, a signature day -- now two days, for the first time ever -- to celebrate the scholarship and creativity of SUNY Oswego students, faculty and staff, takes aim again this year at engaging even more participants and audiences.

The Quest symposium will kick off from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, with a display of scholarly and informative posters at SUNY Oswego's Syracuse campus, 2 Clinton Square. As many presenters as possible will be in attendance to discuss their work and to celebrate.

Organizers for Quest -- scheduled on the main campus in Oswego all day Wednesday, April 3 -- also plan a second year of the spectator-friendly Three-Minute Thesis competition for graduate students, and a formal launch of a related social media app, Attendify, after a successful pilot at last year's Quest.

"I think it's so important to extend a special invitation to our Syracuse campus to highlight their courses and the scholarship and projects of their students and faculty," said Kristen Eichhorn, dean of graduate studies and director of Quest.

The Syracuse campus provides expanded regional access to SUNY Oswego's nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate degree programs to people residing or working in the greater Syracuse area. With day and evening classes, the Syracuse campus accommodates the busy schedules of nontraditional students and working professionals. 

"How can we showcase their work and courses and get them engaged in Quest, and yet be sensitive to their time?" Eichhorn asked rhetorically. "The Quest Kickoff really comes from an intentional effort to incorporate Syracuse campus students into our celebration."

Posters displayed at the kickoff event -- which, like the entire Quest symposium the past 39 years, is free and open to the public -- are able to be transported to Oswego afterward for display at the popular annual Quest Poster Session in Marano Campus Center arena.

'Excited to host'

Eichhorn said future growth potential for Quest lies in finding ways to engage alumni and parents, as well as in boosting participation among current undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduate assistant Melissa Wilson, completing her master's degree in strategic communication this semester, will spearhead promotion and recruiting of graduate students and faculty judges for Three-Minute Thesis.

The competition -- originating with the University of Queensland, Australia, and now adopted at hundreds of colleges and universities in 66 nations -- encourages graduate students to explain their research or creative project against a tight time limit, with just one PowerPoint-style slide to provide visual information.

"I'll be hosting the event and introducing the students and judges," said Wilson, who also continues to serve as general manager of student-run WTOP-TV on campus. "I'm excited to be able to host the competition. It allows anyone in a graduate program to present original research and creative projects."

Quest organizers encourage all types of other creative or scholarly presentations and activities -- hundreds of them -- from departments across the college. There are so many, those attending literally can't tell the players without a scorecard.

Enter the free-to-download Attendify mobile app, which last year proved to increase engagement with Quest as well as a tool for locating all of the presentations, Eichhorn said. 

"We got good feedback during Quest 2018 and were able to reduce the number of paper copies of the printed program," she said. "It allows you to preview things. Our goal is to have the Quest 2019 schedule out several days before the event so individuals can plan and prepare for the day in advance."

Interactive features

Graduate Studies' database administrator, Zachary DeMarsh, is in charge of working in Attendify to organize the detailed matrix that is the symposium schedule, finding times and spaces across the campus for all of the departments and their student, faculty and staff presenters. 

"It also allows me to send out notifications and pop-up messages, such as, 'This presentation is about to start,' and to update the schedule with minute-by-minute adjustments in times and rooms if needed," DeMarsh said. "That's not going to happen with a printed program."

Attendify also features social media staples: likes, comments, photo uploads and even a "favorite part of Quest" poll, he said. Users also can search by Quest "departments" -- organized primarily by major, but including activities such as the induction of new members for Eta Omicron Chapter of the Phi Beta Delta international honor society, the Office of International Education and Programs, and the School of Education's Teacher Opportunity Corps II.

For the Attendify download and more information about the mobile app's features, visit the college's Quest site. As April 2 and 3 near, search the app for "Quest 2019." The Quest website also provides more information about the symposium, debuting in 1980 and founded by the late SUNY Oswego professor and scholar Helen Daly, then chair of the Faculty Research Committee.