The third annual TEDxVirginiaTech kicks off tomorrow evening at the Moss Arts Center with Virginia Tech faculty, students, and alumni giving the talk of a lifetime.

Tickets to the event are sold out.

TEDxVirginiaTech After Dark will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. with 10 local speakers sharing inspiring and thought-provoking ideas worth spreading. Each talk will focus on this year’s theme of “Illuminate,” a play on words of not only the after-sunset event, but also shining a light on new approaches to world problems such as poverty or deforestation of the Amazon. 

The talks will follow a day-long, free-admission technology expo hosted at The Cube, inside the arts center, featuring the works of various Virginia Tech student groups and local entrepreneurs, including the College of Engineering’s DREAMS and TREC laboratories, with 3-D printing and robotics.

Hosting the event this year will be Steve Matuszak of Christiansburg, Virginia, a doctoral student in the management program at the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business. Matuszak was one of the speakers at the inaugural TEDxVirginia Tech in 2012.

“Our speakers will share a wealth of knowledge and passion about topics that affect our everyday lives, and I believe their passion will inspire attendees to make a difference," said Danielle Lusk, assistant director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research and a leader of the TEDxVirginiaTech organizing committee.

Faculty speakers

  • Akshay Sharma, associate professor of industrial design with the School of Architecture + Design, “Designing Empowerment.”
  • Wornie Reed, professor of sociology and African studies with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech. “A Framework for Civil Discourse about Race and Racism.”
  • Roop Mahajan, director of Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “Intersections: Incubators of Sustainable Technologies.”
  • Brook Kennedy, associate professor of industrial design with the School of Architecture + Design. “Undark and the Firefly.”
  • Aki Ishida, assistant professor of architecture with the School of Architecture + Design. “Slowing Down with the Speed of Light.”
  • Joycelyn Wilson, assistant professor with the School of Education, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “The OUTKAST Imagination.”

Student speakers

  • Austin Larrowe of Woodlawn, Virginia, a senior and dual major in applied economic management and agricultural sciences, both in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Seeds of Hope.”
  • Kelly Donoughe of Lake Mary, Florida, a doctoral student with the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, part of the College of Engineering, and a part-time transportation engineer at Leidos. “Illuminating the Road Ahead.”
  • Art Conroy of Dulles, Virginia, a doctoral student with Virginia Tech’s Adult Learning and Human Resources Development, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, located at the university’s National Capital Region. “Draw Aloud: The Power and Peril of Illuminative Thinking.”

Alumni speakers

  • Mohsin Kazmi, a 2012 graduate of the Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and a conservationist photographer and a travel guide with Tamandua Expeditions. “Photographers: Architects of Light, Architects of Change”

More than 150 people were nominated by themselves or others to present talks. Nominations were reviewed and potential speakers interviewed by TEDxVirginiaTech committee members. 

The event is being presented by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, the Institute for Creativity Arts and Technology, and University Relations.

The TEDxVirginia Tech Technology Lab held inside the Moss Center for the Arts’ Cube kicks off at noon, running to 5:45 p.m. and is open to the public and with free admission. Twelve booths will be on display featuring Virginia Tech labs, faculty members, and three TEDxVirginiaTech speakers, including Conroy and Ishida, and 2012 speaker Jake Socha, who studies the biomechanics of flying snakes and other creatures. 

Labs on display include the 3-D printing Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS, for short) Lab and the robotics lab, Terrestrial Robotics Engineering and Controls (TREC).

Started as a four-day conference nearly 30 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 live speakers and video and combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

Again this year, many opportunities around the country with alumni chapters are available to watch a live streaming event of the night’s talks. All the events will combine TEDTalks videos with live speakers to spark deep discussion and connection in small groups. Visit the TEDxVirginiaTech websiteFacebook page, and Twitter page for additional information.

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 four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

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