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Big ideas coming to Clarkson University as TEDx symposium planned

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POTSDAM — A group of Clarkson University students will inaugurate a north country edition of a national innovation conference.

A brain trust of American inventors, artists, philosophers and entrepreneurs met in California last week for TED 2013, a four-day conference featuring more than 50 presentations designed to stimulate and provoke ideas and innovations. Now, Potsdam will play host to its own version of the event.

“I watched a lot of TEDx talks when I was in high school. I used to watch them online,” said event organizer John Lindsay, a Clarkson freshman. “I really found the collaboration that occurred at these events incredible. The kind of things that were spoken about weren’t normally heard.”

TED, short for technology, entertainment and design and founded in 1984, has spun off into a series of regional conferences called TEDx. All conferences retain a format of small audiences, short presentations and programming free from any commercial, religious or political agenda.

Previously, Clarkson’s Gabor Forgacs, director of the Shipley Center for Innovation, was featured by TED for his use of a 3D printer to create edible artificial meat. Mr. Lindsay said Clarkson is a perfect place for a TEDx talk.

“When I came to Clarkson, I found programs like the Institute for Sustainable Environment, I found them as unique opportunity to have this conversation,” he said. “There are all these things about protecting our world and about how we can have new ideas that are both practical and exciting. The governor came here to talk about economic incubators and that Clarkson has an opportunity facilitate this kind of incredible growth, intellectual growth, economic growth, social growth.”

The TEDxClarksonU conference, slated for April 13, is sponsored by Clarkson’s SPECTRUM (Shaping Possibilities and Embracing Change To Reach a United Mission), a student group dedicated to encouraging diversity.

“We’re looking for a conversation to begin, not only here on campus, but around the north country, the nation and the world,” Mr. Lindsay said. “We are looking for a conversation that hasn’t really happened yet. How is it that these voices that haven’t been heard before can contribute to the sustainability of the world?”

SPECTRUM’s theme for the event is sustainability, with speakers from across disciplines discussing the economic, social and environmental challenges the north country faces.

“We’re creating an environment where these ideas can be spread to others and where people can network and find ways to collaborate on ideas,” said SPECTRUM President Lorraine Njoki. “So basically we’re providing the venue and the atmosphere, and then people who have ideas and who are working on innovative projects come and present at the talk.”

The event’s organizers are looking for speakers, whose presentations will not exceed 15 minutes.

Members of nearby campuses and communities throughout the north country are welcome to attend, but as at other TED events, all attendees will have to register.

Only 100 people will participate in the event, including organizers, speakers, production personnel and the audience. There is a $10 fee for attendance.

“I would really encourage the community to come out if they have something to say,” Mr. Lindsay said. “I really encourage people to come and listen and participate in a large conversation about how to make our world a better place on all kinds of fronts.”

Speaker application forms are available in the Clarkson Center for Advanced Materials Processing building, Room 100, by emailing spectrum@clarkson.edu, at www.facebook.com/TedxClarksonU.info or by calling 268-3785.

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