Published: Jan. 31, 2024

The 2024 Three Minute Thesis final competition will be held Feb. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m.

What is the best way to distill a multitude of information into just three minutes?

That’s the question ten graduate students will be wrestling with as part of the Graduate School’s seventh annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which will be held in the University Memorial Center’s Glenn Miller Ballroom on Feb. 7, 2024, from 4 to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

This event challenges students to explain their thesis to the general public. They are then evaluated by a panel of judges from across the university, including College of Arts and Sciences Dean Glen Krutz, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Associate Dean Charles Musgraves, Professor of Sociology Lori Hunter, and Physics Professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Cornell.

In the days leading up to the event, we’ll be featuring each of the competitors. Today’s is Aaquib Tabrez, a computer science doctoral candidate who focuses on robotics. His 3MT presentation’s title is, “Building Trust and Reliance in Human-Machine Teams via Transparent Algorithms.”

Aaquib Tabrez

Aaquib Tabrez

If you had to describe your research in one sentence, what would you say?

I teach robots and autonomous systems to better communicate back to people such that they are more transparent, trustworthy and reliable, aiming to enhance human-machine communication and collaboration.

What is your favorite thing about the research you do?

What I love most about my research is the incredible freedom I have to chase after any problem that I want. There's something thrilling about tackling brand new challenges, ones that nobody has ever solved before, especially knowing these solutions can make a big difference, from big-picture changes to easing daily life for people. Plus, I get to play around with all sorts of cool robotics platforms, which is just so much fun and always keeps me excited about what I'm doing.

What led you to pursue your doctoral degree in your field of study?

I've always dreamed of being a scientist since I was a child. I've always been fascinated by how people think and solve problems, and I wanted to replicate this in machines to help people make better decisions. When I started grad school, my driving motivation was to explore and expand the boundaries of what humans and robots could achieve together, pushing beyond what was previously possible.

What did you do before coming to CU Boulder for graduate school?

Before coming to CU Boulder for graduate school, I was a Procurement Manager at Daimler. I also took on a role as a social fellow with Yuva Prerna Yatra. This part of my life took me to the Himalayas, where I got to travel, learn and work closely with local entrepreneurs.

What is your favorite food and why?

My favorite food is Haleem, a traditional dish that combines wheat, barley, lentils and meat, like beef or mutton. It's this rich, slow-cooked dish that's just savory, comforting and really hearty. I especially love it not just because it tastes incredible, but also because it reminds me of the childhood days of Ramadan. We used to have it after a whole day of fasting, and it always brought my friends and family together, making those long days really worthwhile.