I hear the instantly recognizable intro sound—a chime, water drop, timpani, and sustained chord—followed by a swell of applause. I know I’m about to enjoy another interesting, mind-expanding TEDx talk passionately delivered by someone very close to the subject matter. But this time is different—I’m there, live at the event. This is a big deal!
I’ve been watching TED and TEDx talks online for the last five years. I downloaded the iOS app and I like to spend my weekends catching up on the latest talks on my iPad. I share my favorite ones with my friends and family through Facebook posts and email. Being such a fan meant when Kate Washut recently offered me one of her two tickets to theTEDx UNI event I almost spit out the coffee I was sipping…almost. I love coffee more than TED talks.
We attended the event on March 28, 2015 at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. Several amazing booths were set up in the reception area from organizations around the area, but I was drawn to the Cedar Valley Makers Club setup. I spent most of the time before the event checking out their 3D printer and talking to them about custom biomechanical devices they are designing and building along with Taylor Morris.
Taylor was one of the presenters that night as well. His thoughtful, inspiring talk dealt with some of the customizations he has made to his artificial limbs and how they’ve helped him deal with and overcome the challenges he faces on a daily basis.
He talked about storage compartments he’s built into the thigh section of his leg, a retractable pen in his forearm for quickly signing receipts, and other timesaving mechanisms he’s devised. He needed a way to adjust the tightness of his prosthetics on the fly, so he borrowed the idea of the ratcheting mechanism from an inline skate. This takes personal biohacking to a new level.
These types of innovations and inventions are like light-bulb moments for me. They’re what make these talks so irresistible. They spur me on to action and to reach further in what I do every day.
I write code. I’m a developer here at Far Reach, and I strive to learn more and to think about problems from a new angle to find better or quicker solutions. I share what I’ve learned with our team through pair programming and mini-presentations we call Geek Outs.
This knowledge sharing makes the team stronger and more focused, and I find that when I teach, I gain a deeper insight into the subject matter myself. This is what TEDx is all about from my perspective.
There were many more presenters that night, and I wish I could tell you what I learned from each of them, but that would be a very long post. I do want to thank Keevin O’Rourke for his earnest and profound talk about millennials and how they should be viewed and valued. Thanks as well to David Gould, the University of Iowa’s first Obermann Center Public Scholar; Dr. Amit Sood; Hannah J. Shaffer; and the rest of the speakers that evening.
And most of all, thanks to Kate, for sharing the love of knowledge and that golden ticket.