Sixteen Virginia Tech faculty, students, and alumni, joined by members of the local community will take the stage this Saturday at the newly opened Moss Arts Center for the second annual TEDxVirginiaTech.

The Nov. 9 event follows in the tradition of national TED events, with speakers sharing inspiring and thought-provoking ideas worth spreading. Each talk will focus on this year’s theme of moving “Beyond Boundaries.” 

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.., and include several videos of previous TED speakers and a technology hall known as the TEDxVirginiaTech Lab that will feature more than a dozen student teams, university organizations, and local businesses.

“The Moss Arts Center is the perfect venue to inspire ‘ideas worth spreading,’” said Melissa Richards, a co-chairwoman with the TEDxVirginiaTech executive committee and assistant vice president for marketing and publications for Virginia Tech. “This weekend faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members will come together to hear authentic stories from people who think and do things ‘Beyond Boundaries’ out of passion -- and hopefully be inspired to take action and make a difference.”

Faculty, student, and community member tickets are now on sale, with tickets ranging from $10 for students with valid ID to $20 for the public. An add-on lunch option of $5 is available for all tickets. The event is presented by Virginia Tech’s Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, Institute for Creativity Arts and Technology, and University Relations.

Livestream viewing events on the talks also are planned across campus, including the Newman Library and Graduate Life Center, as well as other venues for alumni chapters across the state and elsewhere.

Scheduled speakers for the 2013 TEDxVirginiaTech event and the title of their talk are, by category:


  • Susan Duncan, professor of food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Food and Emotions.”
  • Marc Edwards, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. “Heroic by Nature, Cowardly by Convenience.”
  • Wu Feng, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering. “Big Compute vs. Big Data.”
  • E. Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the College of Science and director of the Virginia Tech Center for Applied Behavior Systems. “The Psychology of Self-Motivation.”
  • Perry Martin, senior associate director of community learning, VT Engage. “Re-creation Through Recreation.”
  • Patty Raun, professor and director of the School of Performing Arts, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Crossing the Void Between Us.”
  • David G. Schmale III, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Drone-ing for Life in the Atmosphere.”
  • Christopher Williams, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and engineering education in the College of Engineering. “Disruptive Design via Additive Manufacturing.”


  • Chelsea Cook of Newport News., Va., a junior majoring in physics in the College of Science. “Creating Interfaces, Creating Experiences.”
  • Amy Elliott of Fayetteville, Tenn., a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Refostering Innovation in America.”
  • Eric Hodges of Fieldale, Va., a doctoral student in the School of Public and International Affairs, part of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “The Moral Injury of War.”
  • Joshua Jenkins of Winchester, Va., a sophomore majoring in aerospace and ocean Engineering. “Launching Lemons into Space.”

Alumni/Community members

  • Michael Blackwell of Blacksburg, founder of Natural Intelligence Productions. He earned two degrees from Virginia Tech, including a master's degree from the School of Education in 2007. “Forget What You Know.”
  • John Carlin of Roanoke, Va., a news anchor for WSLS-10 Roanoke, and former broadcast writing professor. “Breaking News.”
  • Janine Davis of Charlottesville, Va., now on faculty at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg , Va. She earned two bachelor degrees, one each from the Department of Theater and Cinema and the Department of English, both part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, in 1999. “Persona: Mirror, Window, or Wall.”
  • Kaitlin Shreckise of Blacksburg, and a ballet/dance instructor at Dance.Tech. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the Department of English, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Dancing Beyond Boundaries.”

More than 100 people were nominated to present talks at this year’s event. Nominations were reviewed and potential speakers interviewed by committee members of TEDxVirginiaTech.

Participants in the TEDxVirginiaTech Lab include the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory of Virginia Tech, the Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, Virginia Tech Battery Operated Land Transportation (BOLT) team, the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech’s Design Research and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Laboratory, InnovationSpace, Hydrokentic Solutions, and PopperTech, among others. Some vendors are directly tied to the speakers, including then DREAMS Lab, which is directed by Williams and includes Elliott as a doctoral student.

“The TEDxVirginiaTech lab will showcase research and innovation by students, faculty, and industry partners,” said Richards. “It will give attendees the opportunity to interact with research that represents the beyond boundary topic that the TEDxVirginiaTech speakers will be presenting on stage.”

Hosting the event this year will be Steve Matuszak of Christiansburg, Va., a doctoral student in the management program at the Pamplin College of Business. Matuszak was one of the featured speakers at the inaugural TEDxVirginiaTech event, focusing his talk on improvisation.

Visit the TEDxVirginiaTech website, Facebook page, and Twitter page for additional information.

Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, the nonprofit organization TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where ‘x’ means independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized, subject to certain rules and regulations.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with many initiatives.

At a TED conference, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. TED speakers have included Roger Ebert, Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Brian Greene, Isabel Allende and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Three major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring in Vancouver, Canada, simultaneous with TEDActive, in Whistler, Brtitish Columbia; and the TEDGlobal Conference takes place each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

On, talks from TED conferences are shared with the world for free as TED Talks videos. A new TED Talk is posted every weekday. Through the Open Translation Project, TED Talks are subtitled by volunteers worldwide into more than 90 languages. Through our distribution networks, TED Talks are shared on TV, radio, Netflix, and many websites.

The TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities with TED Talks and live speakers. More than 5,000 TEDx events have been held, and selected talks from these events are also turned into TED Talks videos.

The annual TED Prize grants $1 million to an exceptional individual with a wish to change the world. The TED Fellows program helps world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. TED-Ed creates short video lessons by pairing master teachers with animators, for use in classroom instruction or independent learning.

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