Bright Ideas Abound at TEDxIIT

By Marcia Faye

An audience eager to learn from thought leaders about topics ranging from particle physics and theatrical improv to human trafficking and interactive artificial intelligence filled IIT Tower Auditorium this past spring at the sixth annual TEDxIIT. An eclectic mix of 25 speakers and presenters, including Cleversafe founder Chris Gladwin, former Major League Baseball player Jim Mecir, designer/culturist Maya-Camille Broussard, and Illinois Tech Provost Frances Bronet shared their stories with the simple yet powerful goals of creating conversation and igniting ideas. Innovation leadership consultant Amy Segami (ME ’79, M.S. ’82), a former mechanical engineer who has applied her science acumen to revive the ancient art of suminagashi and establish her Action to Application training program Painting On Water™, noted that TEDxIIT has always been a sold-out event. Approximately 11,000 viewers from 85 countries watched the 2016 conference via the web.

“The TEDx event on campus is a win-win to engage the university worldwide,” says Segami. “The speakers, who range from students and faculty to alumni and community members, are featured on the TED global platform with evergreen digital footprints. The audience experience, share, and apply the collaborative innovation ideas.

Inspired by the 2016 event’s theme, Illinois Tech Leadership Academy Scholar San Lae Lae Cho (ARCH 4th year) spoke about how taking the time to get to know others in our increasingly mobile and diverse society could potentially yield many positive UnexpecTED experiences. Cho, who served as a 2015 TEDxIIT vice president and made her speaking debut at the 2016 event, says that every moment at TED could be a potential opportunity.

“TEDxIIT offers the audience members a unique opportunity during the breaks, lunch, and reception to discuss and share their passions with the speakers. The attendees can network easily with professionals from a wide variety of fields,” she says. “When you’re a speaker, no matter if you are a student or a famous scientist, you come to the same platform to share your ideas. TEDxIIT encourages everyone to respect one another. The TED culture is special for its networking; it was amazing to meet many different people from different professions. It was a memorable day.”

The next TEDxIIT is slated for April 8, 2017. For more information visit To see more photos of the 2016 event visit