"TEDx" group at University debuts with salon event.

By Rick Moore

It's certainly not a stretch to say that Dustin Huibregtse is driven. A senior in the Carlson School of Management (CSOM), Huibregtse is compelled to take on new challenges, driven to succeed, and yes, driven to discover.

And he's found a way to take his conceptual and organizational prowess and combine it with two proven brands to put the University of Minnesota's creativity on display to a broad audience.

Huibregtse is the director of a student group that last winter obtained a license from TEDx for the University of Minnesota. (TED.com is the popular website that makes great talks and conversations available to the world for free, and TEDx refers to an independently organized TED event.) The goal of the group is to bring together the great thinkers at the University of Minnesota and "give them the opportunity to share their ideas and discuss our shared future."

To that end, they will host a couple of large events this academic year. The first is "Constructive Disruption," a salon to be held Saturday, November 5, at The Whole Music Club in Coffman Union. There will be seven featured speakers--mostly U students, both graduate and undergraduate--with expertise ranging from sustainable living to fighting HIV.

That will be followed next April with "TEDxUMN 2012," an event featuring 16 to 18 speakers from the University of Minnesota community.

"We're bringing together the innovators, doers, movers, and shakers of the campus and giving them a space and a platform in which to discuss ideas worth spreading," says Huibregtse.

Great walls, great ideas

Last fall Huibregtse was in Hong Kong for his CSOM international experience. The previous year he had finished building the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program at the U and was looking for an opportunity to start something new. His two competing ideas were to develop a young entrepreneurs conference--bringing high school students to the Carlson School--or trying to get a TEDx license for the U.

It was while hiking along the Great Wall of China that he found his inspiration. His group had discovered an old tower that hadn't been remodeled and that nature had taken over, and it felt as if they were, he says, "discovering something for the very first time."

Huibregtse thought, "Is this what discovering something feels like? Is this what it means to be 'Driven to Discover,' like the University's motto?"

"The TED brand is very powerful, but we also knew that there's something so wonderful about bringing the ideas of the University of Minnesota and giving them such a global stage in which to share them," he says. "And everybody can discuss their shared ideas; there's such an incredible group of people here."

Saturday's salon is limited to 100 audience members who were chosen based on their breadth of experiences and interests.

"These are business students, these are College of Biological Sciences students, these are CSE (College of Science and Engineering) students. ... Our audience has students from every single college and has a mix from freshmen all the way to seniors and graduate students," he notes.

In addition to the live event at Coffman, there will be a viewing party in Room 35 Nicholson Hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The webcast of the TEDxUMNSalon will also be streaming on the group's website, TEDxUMN.com.

Potential viewers "can wake up in the morning, grab themselves a cup of coffee, and watch it [from home] in bed," Huibregtse says. "The idea is anyone has access to these talks, and the talks will be made freely available post-event."

Less than a week before the fruits of his--and the dozens of other students in the U's TEDx group--were to come to fruition, Huibregtse was visibly energized by his latest collegiate endeavor.

"We're finding these stories about what people are doing [at the U] and they're driving us and motivating us to keep moving forward," he says. "We know we're doing something incredible. We're touching on something in this University. As one member said, 'We are putting a finger on the pulse of what makes this university come alive as best as we possibly can.'"