Campuses:

At the Heart of Discovery

March 23, 2012

As the Director of TEDxUMN, Carlson School senior Dustin Huibregtse has helped provide a stage for University thought leaders to showcase their ideas worth spreading. 

At the University of Minnesota, the idea behind 'Driven to Discover' is being championed by people throughout campus. They're envisioning what tomorrow could be. Stretching the imagination to reveal innovative perspectives and potential solutions to issues new and old.

They're ideas worth spreading, and a select few will be at the upcoming TEDxUMN 2012 event at Coffman Memorial Union Theater on April 21. Themed "At the Heart of Discovery," the event provides a stage for 15 University affiliated thought leaders to showcase their amazing ideas and stories. Each presentation will be 15 to 18 minutes long. 

"This is your chance to truly witness the University like you've never seen before," says Carlson School senior Dustin Huibregtse, who is the director of TEDxUMN.

Huibregtse, an entrepreneurial management and management information systems dual major, started TEDxUMN in early 2011 by becoming an official TED licensee, which grants him and his team the ability to coordinate local, self-organized TEDx events at the University. (x = independently organized TED event.) The April 21 event is TEDxUMN's biggest event to date, stemming from its inaugural, and smaller, "salon" event in November 2011.

"It'll be like our first event...but times four," Huibregtse exclaims.

But a TEDx event is more than listening to enlightening ideas. While at the event (and even before), Huibregtse explains that attendees will be "immersed in an experience"- from the materials they receive, to a special iPhone app and a Facebook page designed to keep the conversation going and ideas flowing between both the attendees and the speakers.

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    Dustin Huibregtse (left)

"It's not just a simple conference," Huibregtse says. "Every piece has been carefully looked at by our team and designed in such a way that we create, at least for a glimpse of time, a culture, an environment, and an event that's unlike any conference or experience you've attended."

The TEDxUMN team, comprised of undergraduate students from the Carlson School and other schools throughout the University, has worked diligently for months on end to curate the upcoming event, with the overriding goal of finding a group of speakers with "ideas worth spreading."

In their pursuit, the team scoured the University, talking to various staff, faculty, and deans from nearly every department and school to identify potential speakers for initial interviews. Huibregtse adds that being at one of the largest university campuses in the country certainly hasn't hindered their cause.

"This place is a diamond mine. There is so much stuff happening here," he says.

After four months of searching and conducting interviews, the speaker list is nearly solidified, and features a University PhD student and faculty from a range of University departments and schools, plus alumni in the TV and heathcare field.

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"We have a mix of people whose ideas are in the implementation phase; they've tested it and it has traction. Their idea is well developed and is very future-looking," Huibregtse says of the speakers. "At the end of a TEDx, you should have the ability to pull together what you just saw and understand what the future just might look like. That's the idea."

Huibregtse believes that the upcoming event will be the "tap on the domino" toward 2013, when he hopes that TEDxUMN will have solidified its place within the University. He even foresees TEDxUMN being used as a recruiting tool for the University, saying that other schools have actually secured commitments from students because a TEDx organization was on campus.

"People think 'Driven to Discover' is just some tagline, but the more we do our work, the more powerful and the more tangible it becomes," says Huibregtse. "Our dream is to create an event that lasts every year; that becomes bigger and develops a strong community."

Huibregtse will graduate this spring and soon thereafter start a job at Deloitte. He plans on continuing his connection to TEDx for the foreseeable future by working with organizers from other organizations to help build the TEDx community and support network in Minnesota.

Tickets to the "At the Heart of Discovery" event went on sale March 26.

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