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TEDx spreads worthy ideas

One hundred of Ottawa’s most innovative individuals gathered at the Gladstone Theatre March 30 to attend TEDxCarletonU, a conference showcasing new ideas driving innovation at Carleton.

“Ideas are the building blocks of innovation,” said TEDxCarletonU organizer Luc Lalande.

TED is a non-profit organization that looks at “ideas worth spreading,” and broadcasts them to the world through the Internet, the original TED conference in California, and through independently run TEDx events like the one at the Gladstone.

The conference showcased five Carleton professors Lalande selected.

“I was looking for researchers who were pushing the boundaries of research and coming up with interesting ideas,” Lalande said. “I was also looking for people who wanted to take those ideas and do something with them.”

“Every TED event has a theme associated with it,” explained fourth-year Carleton computer science student Nicholas Osborne, the event’s social media volunteer. “In our case, it’s change makers.”

Each presentation lasted 15 minutes, with topics ranging from architecture inspired by nature to how nanotechnology could be used to create smarter and more efficient fertilizers.

“In the world today there are people with good ideas all over the place,” said Jim Davies, one of the TEDx speakers and the director of the science of imagination laboratory at Carleton.

Davies spoke about how he and his students study imagination scientifically. 

“It seems like one of the most impenetrable parts of the world,” Davies said, but explained by using psychological tests and new computer imagination software it is possible.

“Often lecture series are directed towards a certain audience. TED is more for the lay person and in a language that everyone can understand,” Davies said.

Another crowd favourite was a presentation by music composition professor Jesse Stewart, whose presentation included the use of the speech podium as a musical instrument.

“My main message was that creativity belongs to everyone and we can find opportunities to think and act creatively in our daily lives in the ways that we engage with the things around us,” Stewart said.

“I think it is important for people to take opportunities to expand their worldview and TEDx events, in my experience anyways, offer that opportunity,” Stewart said.

The audience capacity of the conference was restricted to 100 attendees who were either nominated or selected based on application.

“These are people who are in the community actively doing things to support innovation,” Lalande said. “They could be entrepreneurs or people doing creative work in a variety of ways.”

Facilitators invited participants to connect through social media, something that doesn’t happen at every lecture, Osborne said.

“Often, at events like this, the only face time you have is during an intermission or just after the event,” Lalande said. “With social media we now have a means of networking people prior, during and following the event.”

A high-definition recording of the event will soon be available on YouTube.


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