Colorado School of Mines students have organized a campus version of the popular TED Talks, with the aim of bringing new ideas to this community of aspiring scientists and engineers.
TEDxCSM, with the theme of “Pathways to Tomorrow” and taking place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, has already sold out. Unsurprisingly, education is well represented in the four scheduled talks.
Gus Greivel, teaching professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Mines, will present “Failing Successfully in Education,” discussing how encouraging intellectual risks and failure and modeling this behavior in faculty can help students.
“I plan to explore some recent changes we have made in the Honors Calculus II course at Mines that reflect risk-taking on the part of the faculty and a change in emphasis on how and what we assess with this high-performing group of students,” said Greivel, who received his BS and MS degrees from Mines and has taught at the university since 1996.
Jahi Simbai, assistant dean of graduate studies at Mines, hopes to both educate and entertain with his talk, titled “The Power of &.” The presentation is inspired by hip-hop and the teachings of Jim Collins, a Colorado native who taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and now runs a management laboratory in Boulder.
“I’m going to perform some live music, show some slides and talk about how the students can become great engineers and something else,” Simbai said. “As an engineering, an entertainer, an administrator and a lifelong learner I—enjoyably—wear many hats,” he added. “I will discuss with the community how they, if they wish, can do the same by embracing the power of ‘and’.”
Jessica Ellis, assistant professor of mathematics at Colorado State University, drawing from her own experiences as a student and educator, will present “The Breakdown of Women in STEM.” As a member of a larger research project, Ellis helped determine that women are 50 percent more likely to switch out of STEM majors after taking Calculus I in college, compared to men with the same abilities.
“We found that students’ confidence in their math abilities was a major factor,” Ellis said. While not a groundbreaking discovery, “by documenting and publishing these findings, I put words to many women’s experiences in introductory college math.”
Longtime marketing executive Justine Metz will discuss ethics and engineering.
Mines sophomore Daniel Dickason and senior Jessie Burckel, both mechanical engineering majors, are the co-organizers of the TEDx event. The rest of the team is made up of Grayland Balmer, chemical and biological engineering; Sean Smith, mechanical engineering; Trevor Clevenger, engineering physics; Becca May, computer science; and Tara Maestas, biochemical engineering.
Bringing TEDx to Golden has actually been a couple of years in the making. Arjumand Alvi, who graduated from Mines last May and now works as a systems engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, had been the primary point of contact in trying to obtain the one-year TEDx license.
“When I was in school, I had a professor who really opened my eyes to TED Talks,” Alvi said. “I was also an RA, where there was a lot of interest in using technology to educate our residents.” The committee had to reapply for the license, as their original proposal was deemed too narrowly focused on engineering. “Now we have a multidisciplinary event that tackles different things that influence engineers but is not restricted to engineering.”
Organizers plan to post videos of the talks after the event.