TEDxUIUC provides space for community to discuss various issues

By Masaki Sugimoto

Meera Parat wanted something unique.

The junior in Engineering has noticed that the world around her is changing. With the

changes in technology has come the change in how people succeed.

Now more than ever, people are discussing broad topics that affect the entire world.

With such a vast net of possible topics, finding specific themes to highlight might be


These were the reasons why Parat and her fellow organizers decided to name

Saturday’s TEDxUIUC series “Uncharted.” Eight professors and students will talk about

a struggle they have either personally experienced, watched others battle or have

encountered in their lifetimes.

“We have a fascinating lineup of speakers whose ideas span a wide variety,” Parat said.

“(They) also complement one another, thus furthering the discussion with each talk.”

This is the second year that the event will be held at the Colwell Playhouse at the

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

TED conferences began in California 26 years ago, and their talks on technology,

entertainment and design have been widely popular. Each year, more topics are

covered by a wide variety of speakers.

TEDx is a little different. TEDxUIUC, along with others like it around campuses

nationwide, is independently run. Any community can apply for a TEDx event license,

and the conference is made to be more localized and affordable in order to spread the

ideas TEDx advocates.

Associate Professor Ruby Mendenhall is one of the speakers who is going to address a

unique idea. She is going to talk about what some people refer to as “Hidden America”

— the high­violent communities in cities around the nation that don’t receive the

resources needed to address these issues — as well as her work on how black mothers

relate to “Hidden America” and what can be done to provide structure.

“(The presentation) argues that we have to strengthen communities, through avenues

like DREAM centers and Designing Spaces of Hope and change public policies.”

Patrick Slade, another presenter, is a senior in Engineering who co­founded the startup

PSYONIC. The startup makes advanced, low­cost prosthetics available to people

around the world.

Forbes recognized Slade for his work and placed him on its “30 under 30 in Healthcare”

list. For Slade, his work with PSYONIC is an extension of the independent robotics and

DIY projects he was involved with in high school, and he recognizes that time

management is incredibly important to his success.

“Through the work I’ve done and the impact I’ve achieved, I feel I’ve learned a decent

amount about how to go from discovering a problem you really care about to actually

develop a solution and have a real impact as a student,” he said.

Shraddha Shankar will present on her own personal experiences regarding her

struggles with mental health. Shankar battled with strict expectations throughout her

college career that were set by herself and those around her. During the years, she

learned how to confront and overcome these issues.

Now, she hopes to share those experiences with those who might also battle the same

issues or those who don’t know they exist.

“I’ve wanted to be a motivational speaker since I was 15 and always had the idea for

this talk, but this was the ideal opportunity to present it,” Shankar said. “If you want to be

a motivational speaker, this would be one of the most impactful and relevant topics to

address right now, and I have the most experience in this topic to speak about.”

These three are only a few of the wide variety of topics that will be addressed Saturday.

In a world with so many topics, it’s a simple guide to an uncharted world.