Students, professors inspire at TU’s inaugural TEDx event

The NOVA Fellowship, offered through the Collins College of Business, gives students the opportunity to work with mentors to develop innovative projects outside regular coursework. This year, NOVA fellows Hannah Hutchison (BSBA ’15), a marketing major, and Katie Snyder, a communications major, collaborated to organize a TEDx event on TU’s campus.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, seeks to spread powerful new ideas through concise, interdisciplinary talks. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

The event was aimed at sparking deep discussion and connection around the theme Innomagine—the intersection of innovation and imagination. With support from marketing Professor Charlie Wood, the pair worked with TEDx to secure a license for TU to host an event on campus. Hutchison and Snyder interviewed 40 individuals to fill 11 spots for presentations. Snyder notes that, “Making the final speaker choices was hard – the professors and students we interviewed are all doing amazing things.”

TEDx limits the number of attendees for first-time events to 100. Marketing and social media efforts created significant buzz around the event in advance of ticket availability and TU’s allotment was claimed within 48 hours of release. “We were really surprised by how successful our first year was,” said Snyder. “There are things we will change for next year, but we got a lot of positive feedback from our audience members.”

She and Hutchison give plenty of credit to the team that helped make the event a success, including staff at the Lorton Performance Center (the event venue) as well as students from a number of majors across campus who filmed and edited the sessions, emceed the event, welcomed guests and coordinated lobby activities.

Snyder said she hopes the event will become a tradition at TU and will work next year to compile a manual with contacts, instructions and lessons learned to help future organizers. “It takes so many roles to pull an event like this together, from graphic design to stage management. It’s a great program with an interdisciplinary focus.”

Videos from TU’s TEDx event are available online here.