Watch: A recap of URCAD 2024

Published: Apr 25, 2024

Student holding object that is a part of her research. Student is talking to a visitor of UMBC's Undergraduate Research Day.
Student presenter during UMBC's 2024 Undergraduate Research Day. (All photos by Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

UMBC’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD) returned earlier this month for its 28th year, bringing together more than 400 student presenters and the broader university community for a day filled with posters, performances, demonstrations, and much more. 

With excitement and energy in the air of the University Center, undergraduate studentsmany accompanied by faculty mentorspresented a broad range of research and creative projects to peers, family, friends, and inquiring minds of all kinds. The day included a film festival, interactive video game demonstrations, musical performances, a photography and painting exhibition, as well as poster board and oral presentations from students across colleges. 

“This showcase event not only exemplifies UMBC’s commitment to our students from all disciplines, but defines our commitment by providing them the opportunity to engage in mentored projects, and, through creative thought and focused inquiry, to discover in themselves their passion,” said Katherine Cole, dean and vice provost of undergraduate academic affairs. 

Among this year’s group of presenters was Chiad Onyeje ’24, chemical engineering, who explained the research he’s worked on for nearly three years to develop “spherical shells that we can use as internal Band-Aids” he said in this URCAD 2024 recap video

“URCAD is different from any other presentations that I’ve been able to give on my research thus far. It really felt like a celebration in comparison,” said Onyeje. “I could go in, have a good time, talk about my research to interested parties, and share why I love this project so muchbecause it can help people.”

UMBC’s 2024 Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD). (Elijah Davis, M.F.A. ’21/UMBC)
Woman smiling while delivering a speech. She is standing in front of a podium.
Stefanie Mavronis delivering the URCAD 2024 keynote speech.

From URCAD to the Mayor’s Office

Stefanie Mavronis ’12, political science, media and communication studies, delivered this year’s URCAD keynote speech. Just over a decade ago, Mavronis, who is the director of the Mayor’s Office of Safety and Engagement (MONSE) in Baltimore City, was once a student presenter at URCAD where she premiered her short documentary titled, “Reclamation and Resistance: Audiovisual Tools in Bolivia.” 

“The documentary captured the experiences of indigenous Bolivians who were using art and media technologies to challenge and transform the legacy of hundreds of years of colonization in Bolivia. I learned about decolonization, self determination, reciprocity, and representation,” Mavronis shared with the audience. 

Mavronis, a UMBC Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar alumna, spoke of her journey to finding her passion for public service and how it led to her positions within Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s election campaign and then office. Her work in MONSE has resulted in the office’s implementation of Baltimore’s Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan—the city’s first ever comprehensive, 5-year public safety strategy. 

“When I think back to it, it was UMBC that was the first to help me see myself as a creative practitioner. It’s the place that prepared me to confront the challenges and harsh realities of the world head on and to do so while embracing clear values,” says Mavronis. “It was through my time at UMBC that I uncovered my commitment to Baltimore…through the opportunities that the institution afforded me to see the world outside of the city.”

“Supporting our students’ applied learning experiences is central to our mission at UMBC,” added Cole, “as it develops creative thinking skills, the ability to communicate effectively, analyze information, share stories, and connect with people from diverse cultures, disciplines, and ideologies. These are the skills our students will take forward as leaders of the future.”

For more on UMBC’s undergraduate research and creative work, check out the 2024 UMBC Review, the journal of undergraduate research, volume 25. Free copies of the current issue are available for pick up at the Office of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, located in the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery.

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