Overcoming obstacles focus of TEDxUTD talk

The TEDxUTD team after the event on april 13, 2014.

The lineup at TEDxUTD on Sunday, April 13, included six speakers from the UTD community and two talks streamed online.

Albert Ok, undecided freshman, and one of three student speakers selected from an audition pool of eleven, discussed the practice of “tricking.” Tricking is a street-style gymnastic that involves using one’s own momentum to do somersaults on flat terrain.

Ok, who has himself overcome an illness in his leg, spoke of how the practice of tricking held special meaning for him as he dealt with a potential amputation and helped establish the theme of the night — overcoming obstacles while in pursuit of a global or personal goal.

Caitlynn Fortner, also an undecided freshman, spoke on her effort to revive the reputation of GMOs, a journey that took her to an Indian agriculture minister’s premises and back. To Fortner, nutritional conscientiousness in a population is a crucial milestone towards development, something she ushered the audience to come together for in the future.

Computer science graduate student Vaibhav Prakash discussed his intention to carry UTD into a place of significantly greater ecological awareness using RFIDs carried by students to allocate the university’s energy resources more appropriately. The challenges Prakash faces include existing infrastructure, privacy concerns, and further research and development, but he prophesized that UTD would be a fully smart campus in five years.

The faculty speakers, Paul Fishwick and Shawn Carraher, spoke about finding computing in everyday objects and strategic goal setting, respectively.

Usha Peri, a nephrologist in Dallas, and Ram Sankaranarayanan, a management consultant in healthcare, talked about the benefits of yoga to emotional — not just physical — health. In professorial form, they drew connections to the student talks and asked the audience to make broader inferences about overcoming obstacles.

“All told, it was about four and a half months in the making,” said Srikant Chari, TEDxUTD president.

The TEDx team navigated the many regulations regarding use of the TED and coordinated with the campus a cappella group Dhunki to fashion an intermission performance.

Chari discussed his participation in organizing last year’s TEDxUTD event, which was less successful than imagined. In taking leadership to overcome those obstacles for 2014, the team demonstrated a resolve not unlike that of their speakers. The event sold 100 tickets.

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