Announcing: Illuminate



“Illuminate” will be the theme for the TEDxVirginiaTech 2014 event to be held on Nov. 20, at the Moss Arts Center. TED enthusiasts and great speakers, thinkers, and doers are invited to “give the talk of a lifetime” at the third annual event.

Intentionally broad, the theme is meant to inspire multidisciplinary and transformative ideas in line with the principles of TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading. The 2014 event will be held in the evening, so the theme casts a deliberate contrast between light and dark. It evokes a broad range of literal and figurative interpretations and proposes intriguing questions, such as: Keep reading »


Live at the Lyric: TED 2014



TEDxVirginiaTechLive is a live stream of Session 2: Retrospect and Session 3: Reshape of TED in Vancouver. It will be held at The Lyric in Blacksburg, VA from 11:30 am to 3:45 pm on March 18, 2014. This event is free and open to the public. The concession stand will be open during this event. Find out more at


How TED talks help us to “come to our senses”


perry wide shot copy2

As a speaker at the 2013 Virginia Tech TEDx event I was impressed by the 3D projector that lit up the words TEDx on the stage into a very dynamic 3D object. It was classy, it was innovative, and just plain cool. As I reflect on my experience with Virginia Tech’s TEDx event I find the 3D projector to be an appropriate analogy of what TED talks mean to me.

TED talks move ideas from a two dimensional print world into a 3D experience that champions not only the idea but the emotion that the idea evokes. We see a glimpse of a concept from every angle and most importantly through a very humanistic angle. In TED talks we find an intersection of science and society, of passion and logic, of reflection and action. We are pulled in, both heart and mind, into the crux of an idea.

We need to feel the gravity of ideas. To me TED Talks do that in a very communal way. They bring a shared gravity to our discovery. A gravity that brings us into a virtual orbit, seeing an idea from every angle. For a few minutes we as an audience we are invited to be the scientist, to be the dancer, to be the kid in the outfield at their first softball game. We become not only witnesses to someone’s epiphany but we are given a chance experience it ourselves. We are pulled into the gravity of a performance and unwittingly we are moved to become an actor.

The information age brings us an infinite salad bar of information to consume but rarely savor. TED talks take us into a rhetorical kitchen of how thoughts and ideas are formed and we are given a firsthand view of the ingredients that make an idea worth sharing. We are allowed to sample the soup, we are encouraged to savor. Keep reading »

Perry Martin

Speaker 2013; Senior Associate Director for Community Learning, VT Engage

Perry D. Martin serves as Senior Associate Director of Community Learning for VT Engage: the Community-Learning Collaborative. In this role, he provides direction to the community-learning program which connects Virginia Tech courses to opportunities in the community. A native and resident of the small rural community of Newport, VA in Giles County. Martin worked with a group of parents and community volunteers to establish t-ball, coach pitch, and softball teams in his community during the summer of 2013. His topic, Heading for Home: How Baseball Re-creates Community, is a personal reflection on how community is revitalized through community-based sports and how youth baseball and softball serves as a link between generations and community members from a variety of backgrounds. Professionally, Martin served as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion where he coordinated the administrative, strategic planning, and communication functions for the vice president's office. During his tenure as Special Assistant, Martin developed the Strong Together campaign to promote the Virginia Tech Principles of Community. He also led the development of a campus-wide diversity magazine, The Path Forward. In 2007 Martin was appointed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to the Virginia Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. Previously, Martin founded and directed the Appal Corps program which was recognized in 2001 as the most outstanding group volunteer effort in the State of Virginia by the Governor's Commission on National and Community Service. In 1997, Martin's community involvement efforts were featured in a publication at the Presidents' Summit on America's Future organized by Colin Powell's America's Promise organization. Martin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Student Affairs from Virginia Tech.


Chris Williams at TEDxVT 2013: Disruptive design via additive manufacturing


Chris Williams

Speaker 2013; Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Education Affiliate faculty, Department of Materials Science & Engineering Director, Design, Research & Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Lab Co-Director, Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing

Professor Chris Williams is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is the Director of the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Laboratory ( and the co-director of Virginia Tech's Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing ( In the realm of additive manufacturing, Chris's expertise is focused in both process improvements and in creating a suite of design tools to guide the use of additive manufacturing to create functional, end-use artifacts (i.e., 'Design for Additive Manufacturing'). Dr. Williams received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2013. He also received the two most prestigious awards for a young researcher in the field of Additive Manufacturing: the 2012 International Outstanding Young Researcher in Freeform and Additive Manufacturing Award (FAME Jr. Award; presented by the International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium) and the 2010 Emerald Engineering Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. He was also selected to co-chair a session on Additive Manufacturing for the 2013 National Academy of Engineers German-American Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. He has received the four Best Paper Awards and two Best Poster Awards at international and national conferences. For his contributions in the classroom, he was awarded the 2012 XCaliber Award, the 2011 W. S. 'Pete' White Award for Innovation in Engineering Education, and the 2011 Charles 'Butch' and Joan Nunnally Outstanding Engineering Education Faculty Member Award. Chris holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia) and a B.S. with High Honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida).


Michael Blackwell at TEDxVT 2013: Forget what you know


Michael Blackwell

Speaker 2013; Founder and Director, Natural Intelligence Productions Alum '90, '07

Michael's experience, training and passion lie in the design and implementation of transformative learning environments. He has broad experience in alternative educational paradigms and has taught dogs, infants, schoolchildren, adjudicated youth, teens, families, college students, factory workers, and the elderly. He and his wife home-schooled their two children on their small homestead farm for 12 years. He's won several teaching and advising awards at Virginia Tech and has designed and taught classes such as 'The Nature of Leadership' and 'The Art and Science of Tracking' that harness the power of nature to facilitate individual and social change. He has a MA in Educational Psychology, works as a mentor and coach; frequently guest lectures, teaches and serves as a training and curriculum consultant on local and regional projects.


About Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is a public land-grant university founded in 1872 with the main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. It is one of the few universities in the United States with a Corps of Cadets.

In its 8 colleges, Virginia Tech offers 150 programs of study, in which 30,739 students are enrolled. It has 230,000 alumni across the globe, and more than $450 million in research expenditures.

What is TED?

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Long Beach, California, along with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs; the annual TEDGlobal conference is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland. TED's media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the recently launched TED-Ed platform for students and educators, the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide, and TEDBooks, short e-books by speakers that elaborate on a single idea originally presented on TED's stage. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. Follow TED on Twitter or on Facebook.

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED. TEDxVirginiaTech is coordinated by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER).

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