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On Wednesday, Week 2, Lancaster University hosted ‘TEDx – Towards Pangaea’ an independently organised TED event that gave 12 speakers from a variety of disciplines a platform to express their own inspirational experiences and ideas.
This year’s annual TEDx event featured more speeches than ever before and was intended to break down the boundaries between individuals, as well as tackle collective problems more intelligently. A talk that typified this sentiment was given by Tom Nash whose technology crowd sourcing venture hoped to establish individuals in a network of “neurons like in a collective brain” and create a “worldwide platform of information.”
Current Lancaster Marketing student Dovas Zakas gave a poignant presentation on Networking and its growing importance in an ever increasingly connected world. Speaking exclusively to SCAN after his TEDx presentation, Zakas said: “Networking is something that can start in schools but is something that is never actually understood. People tell you to network, network, network, but they never tell you how. I took my own perspective of networking and realized that instead of asking for something, I would have to give something without asking for anything in return. I think it is that sort of discovery that a student can reflect on and use in their own experience.” Zakas put his words into actions in his own experiences job hunting and on his approach to a large company he offered them an idea about how to improve their current business model. This confidence and entrepreneurial vision earned him a place on their graduate scheme and spurred him on to share his inspiration with others.
Following speakers shared similar sentiments with Yvonne Battle-Felton telling the audience to be “the main character of your story” in her talk ‘Writing Your Future, Revising Your Past, Moving Forward’. Other presenters spoke about developing products as well calls to confront future problems. ‘Food Insecurity in Our Time’ given by Professor Bill Davis of Lancaster Environment Centre highlighted the difficulties faced by nearly one billion people on this planet who go without sufficient food. Davis highlighted the need for inspirational individuals and a multi-disciplinary approach in facing these challenges.
Engineer, Christian Welchel spoke about 3D printing in his talk ‘Beyond Fabrication’ and in an interview with SCAN elaborated on the future of 3D printing and its future as a consumer product. “Smaller printers are around for around £1,500 – however they only print using plastic. We have printers that can print a whole shoe including stiffness levels modeled to the users feet. We can do all that but the machines cost upward of £300,000 and you have to keep running them otherwise they dry up and you have to spend more money to get them up and running again so that is just not feasible for a private household. Designing things is also really hard and you have to be an engineer. So unless those two things change I can’t see them being feasible as a consumer product.” Whilst it might be a while until 3D printers become a domestic product, their efficacy as a commercial enterprise seems to be growing into a niche market. Welchel went on to tell SCAN how, “You can print in pretty much any material that you can think of. For example many parts of the Airbus A380 are 3D printed and here at the Engineering Department they regularly 3D print aluminum for local companies. On a really practical level my mother had an old wheat grinder from the 70s. A couple of years ago one of the sprockets inside broke. Now you won’t get any spare parts for old machines like that so my dad and I remodeled the part and sent it off to Shapeways.com who 3D printed it and now she has a working machine again. Business models like Shapeways will become more common. Soon you will go into town and you have your local 3D printing shop.”
After the success of the conference, SCAN spoke to TEDx organiser Daniela Panus to inquire exactly what the event meant to her and what went into its planning. Panus told SCAN that it was all about “inspiring people to come together and unravel the truths of the past, debate today’s uncertainties and envision a better tomorrow.” She went of to say: “To organise a TEDx event one must keep an open-mind to let ideas flow and a braze soul to escape your comfort zone.”
If you would like to watch the conference in full you can find it on the TEDx website.