Sharing ideas with TEDxGT

Photo courtesy of Chloe Belangia

“Ideas worth spreading” — that is the motto of the world-renowned Technology, Entertainment and Design(TED) media organization. TED is a nonprofit with the mission of facilitating the spread of ideas, by giving short yet influential talks about issues facing all corners of the globe.

TEDx was created to support independent organizers, who feel that their community has ideas worth spreading.

Within TEDx, community sizes range from single streets to entire cities, with locations all over the globe. Since 2012, Tech has fostered a TEDx community, which has hosted speakers ranging from the director of the Georgia Tech Honeybee Project to the founder of Sweet Hut.

“TEDxGeorgiaTech is the chance for students to share their ideas and be a part of something that is in reality an international organization. We bring TED to the Georgia Tech level to give students topics to relate to that are relevant to their community,” said Yamini Nambiar, third-year CS/BA and co-director of TEDxGeorgiaTech.

What sets TEDxGeorgia Tech apart from other TEDx communities is that speakers are intimately connected to Atlanta and Tech. Talks, though ranging in topic, all tie together as they are relevant to citizens of Atlanta.

“Everyone has a story, and it is really cool to be able to learn about those stories and hear them through TEDx,” said Chloe Belangia, second-year CM and member of the organization’s media team.

Initially known for its annual conference of 100 attendees and speakers from the Atlanta area, TEDxGeorgiaTech has grown to host multiple events each year. The organization started with a group of students passionate about sharing creative ideas and has since grown to having an executive board and ambassador program.

Within the past year, the organization has seen significant change as the founding members graduated and a new executive board was installed.

“It was essentially people starting from scratch, having free reign but working within the box of TED,” Nambiar said. “We had a clear vision of what we wanted to do to improve the organization, but had to find people who were just as excited as we were.”

When looking towards members of the organization, the executive board did not set limits on age, majors, or interests.

In fact, as long as one proves passionate about the mission of TED, he or she is welcomed into the community with open arms. Members are given the opportunity to work in finance, programming, media, or technology depending on their interests within the organization.

“TEDx has grown into an organization full of leaders who really want to make TEDx more of a community on campus,” Belangia said.

Once a team of students passionate about the organization was built, TEDxGeorgiaTech hit the ground running and started to look for more ways to engage students at Tech with the innovative ideas floating throughout the Atlanta area. Their biggest project this year has been planning the annual TEDxGeorgiaTech 2017 Conference, which is a full-day event, filled with influential speakers and a wide audience packed with attendees who paid for a coveted seat at the event.

This year’s conference will be on April 22 at the Historic Academy of Medicine.

“It [The conference] isn’t just to hear speakers,” Nambiar said. “We show videos of other relevant Talks, host a networking luncheon, and allow the opportunity for attendees connect with each other and share ideas.”

Though continually hosting the TEDx Georgia Tech Conference, TEDx Georgia Tech has been seeking ways to further engage students who may not have the time or other resources to attend the full-day conference.

Since last year, the organization has begun to host TedX Salons, which are smaller-scaled, more casual TEDx events with one or two speakers. These events are free to students at Tech.

“We started hosting salons to give more intimate, smaller events to encourage students to participate,” Nambiar said.

The next salon event will be a Student Speaker salon, with four Georgia Tech student speakers sharing their innovative ideas and arising projects. The event will be on March 6, in the Student Center Ballroom.

Whether it is taking the first steps to learn about TEDxGeorgiaTech through attending a salon event or exchanging ideas with Atlanta professionals at the TEDx Conference, there are plenty of ways for students to get involved with the organization.