Students work to create a legacy of TEDx Talks at UT

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Photo Credit: Rachel Tyler | Daily Texan Staff

Eight students are launching the first TEDxUTAustin speaker series and plan to spark a conversation on how students can follow through on UT’s motto: “What starts here changes the world.” 

The independent speaking event stems from the nonprofit TED, whose popular online TED Talks are devoted to spreading ideas and information worldwide. TEDxUTAustin will host a collection of these talks both live and recorded next spring. 

Next semester’s TEDx will not be the only one to take place in Austin. Luca Tomescu, one of the eight co-organizers of the event, said the group hopes to continue the legacy annually and even registered as a student organization with University Communications.

“One of the things we wanted to do was … create an organization around the act of putting on this event every year so that it could be something that continues long after we leave,” said Tomescu, electrical engineering and math sophomore. “We want this to be something that can be left behind. And I know I want to be able to come back to UT in 20 years and go to this event and know that it’s still going strong.”

The theme of the night will be Resonance, with speakers discussing ideas that have or will spark enough resonance with others to change the world. Samyukta Singh, biology sophomore and co-organizer of the event, said it is also a play on the UT motto. 

“We want it to be open to multiple interpretations,” Singh said. “The main, overarching meaning of Resonance is that small, minuscule ideas can have large unquantifiable effects.”

The speaker names will be released in waves toward the end of December, Tomescu said. Although final decisions have not been made, he said speakers will roughly be comprised of one-third students, one third-faculty and one-third other community members.

When planning UT’s TEDx, Tomescu said the organizers looked at other universities that already have reputable TEDx branches, like the University of California at Berkeley. 

“We were very surprised to find out that UT doesn’t already have an event like this, just because it is a world class university,” Tomescu said. “We want to bring a world class platform with these amazing ideas to spread not only within the campus but the world beyond.”

The TED event will take place in February at the Union Auditorium. The price of attending the event will be revealed at a later date. Tomescu said because of the school’s contract with TED, they will only be allowed to sell 100 tickets. However, the event will be recorded and published on the TED YouTube channel afterward.

In 2016, UT hosted TEDxSpeedwayPlaza, which featured UT professors, members of the community and students. A separate TEDxAustin also took place in 2013, but this upcoming event will be the first formally connected to UT. 

“It’s a premiere stage for anyone who’s interested with an idea to share it to an audience that’s more than just here, or what they have right now,” said Abhishek Dasgupta, biomedical engineering sophomore and co-organizer of the event. “It’s possibility, is what it is.”