Innovation And Inspiration

Innovation And Inspiration

Third-generation Bigelow Tea CEO Cindi Bigelow

Third-generation Bigelow Tea CEO Cindi Bigelow presented a TEDx talk titled “Lessons Learned From My Father.”

The first-ever TEDxFairfieldUniversity event was held to celebrate the School of Engineering’s 25th anniversary at Fairfield.

The way we’re going to continue forward is by continuing to be inspired by our limitations.

— Steven Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Watch and share the TEDxFairfieldUniversity talks at:

The acronym TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design — the three topics that combined in 1984 for the first TED Talk in Monterey, Calif. Today, the nonprofit TED organization shares “ideas worth spreading,” not only through the renowned annual TED Talk conference, but also through TEDx — a program launched in 2009 as a smaller, more intimate model for local communities to share big, TED-worthy ideas.

The idea to host a TEDx event on campus was the brainchild of Phil Maroney, director of development for University Advancement, and School of Engineering Dean Richard Heist, PhD. Maroney said they were discussing the experiential learning of today’s engineering stu- dents and “landed on TEDx as a way to share the Fairfield experience on a global platform.”

with a theme of “Innovation and Inspiration,” the Quick Center’s Wien Experimental Theatre was transformed into TEDxFairfieldUniversity on Monday, October 28, 2019.

As the clock ticked toward the 2:30 p.m. start time, 100 invited guests began to fill the rows of tiered seats overlooking the profes- sionally lit stage, set with the familiar red TEDx logo letters.

Down the hall, overflow audience mem- bers leafed through event programs as they sat in the Kelley Theatre, which had been set up to livestream the TEDx talks for hundreds of additional viewers.

Delmonico ’20 is a bioengineering major in Fairfield’s School of Engineering

Delmonico ’20 is a bioengineering major in Fairfield’s School of Engineering

Dean Heist and Maroney had carefully curated the list of nine TEDxFairfieldUniversity speakers; each prepared to present for no more than 16 minutes.

Among those selected were alumna Dawne Ware ’89, CEO of Ware Consulting LLC and a finance executive in the property casualty and reinsurance industries, who had a mes- sage about doing the right thing — even when no one is looking; David Banks, president and CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation, Inc., whose visionary approach to the educa- tion of young men of color has been featured on CBS This Morning; and Cindi Bigelow H’16, third-generation CEO of Bigelow Tea, who wished to pass along important life les- sons learned from her predecessor and father.

Bigelow introduced her parents, Eunice and David Bigelow Jr. as they sat in the front row. Entitled “Lessons Learned From My Father,” her message centered around the importance of making family a priority and being a role model. “You have the power to make a room better,” she told audience mem- bers, “just by being you.”

100 audience members gathered in the Quick Center’s Wien Experimental Theatre for Fairfield’s first TEDx event.

100 audience members gathered in the Quick Center’s Wien Experimental Theatre for Fairfield’s first TEDx event.

Mark Unger, author and owner of another family business, Unger Global Companies, also had his family present for his moving TEDx talk, “First Survivor,” about confronting — and rejecting — the prognosis of “zero chance of survival” when his son was diagnosed with childhood cancer.

Having served three U.S. Army tours as a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan and Iraq, Dr. T. Sloane Guy, MD, MBA, brought a unique perspective to his TEDx talk, “Innovation Inspired by Adversity: Robotic Surgery’s Third Wave.”

Dr. Guy, director of Minimally Invasive & Robotic Cardiac Surgery at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, took listeners back to 1989 — a time when experienced surgeons believed, “the bigger the incision, the better.”

That year, young doctors pioneered the first minimally invasive surgical procedure, an innovation now widely considered to be “the most revolutionary medical procedure in 100 years,” having heralded a cultural shift toward focus on patients’ needs and recovery time. Summing up his work in robotic surgery, Dr. Guy shared a quote from Elon Musk: “I could either watch it happen or be a part of it.”

Cybersecurity expert Aidan Kehoe, co- founder and CEO of Skout Cybersecurity challenged young leaders to “change the world by caring about it more every day,” in his TEDx talk, titled “Feeling Safe in Scary Times.”

Kehoe compared working in cybersecurity “to riding a tiger” and noted that the world has accumulated more data in the last three years than in the history of mankind. To the great interest of the engineering students in the audience, he also estimated that there are currently 3 million open jobs in cybersecurity worldwide — almost a half million of them in the U . S .

All of the invited speakers shared one important asset: an idea that would inspire debate and spark conversation. For bioengineering major Lilliana Delmonico ’20, it was a thought-provoking twist on how to handle the expectations of others when asked, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Tom DiPirro ’13 of Fairfield’s Marketing & Communications team monitors the recording of Dr. Donna Coletti’s talk.

Backstage, Tom DiPirro ’13 of Fairfield’s Marketing & Communications team monitors the recording of Dr. Donna Coletti’s talk, “The Longest Journey: How Palliative Medicine Changed a Surgical Mind and Heart.”

For Donna Coletti, MD, MS, FACOG, scholar-in-residence at the Kanarek Center for Palliative Care Nursing Education in Fairfield’s Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Sciences, it was the per- sonal story behind her unlikely professional career path from obstetrics and gynecology to palliative and hospice care — a move inspired by her father’s serious illness.

For Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, it was the idea that innovation and inspiration are “typically borne out of an unmet need.”

Dr. Badylak highlighted new developments — and setbacks — in regenerative medicine strat- egies for human tissue and organ replacement. He noted that every innovative step forward comes with mistakes and identified limitations

Regenerative medicine expert Stephen Badylak.

Regenerative medicine expert Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, described this slide of the interface of a cell and extracellular matrix as “the inspiration for the work we do” in his research lab.

that then supply the next unmet need. “The way we’re going to continue forward,” he said, “is by continuing to be inspired by our limitations.”

Many of the nine invited speak- ers at Fairfield’s inaugural TEDx event were accustomed to speaking in front of an audience, but none of them had ever given a TEDx talk. Event organizer Maroney said, “The speakers approached their talks as if they were delivering the Gettysburg Address — they ‘wordsmithed,’ rehearsed, refined, read books on public speaking, and rehearsed some more.” As of this publication date, their TEDx Fairfield University talks have been watched online more than 8,250 times col- lectively. They can be viewed at TEDxFairfieldUniversity.

A serendipitous outcome of TEDx Fairfield University was the camaraderie that formed between the speakers as they waited back- stage. A bond formed among them in the green room as they introduced themselves, double-checked the timing of their talks on the master schedule, and watched one another’s presentations on a TV monitor.

Being a TEDx speaker has changed the whole experience of watching TED talks on- line for senior Delmonico. “I used to think TED speakers were superhuman and larger than life,” she said. “I still do, on some level. But now, when I watch talks I think, ‘That is a real person who was probably nervous, but hopefully had a small group of strangers cheering them on in the green room.’”

In the weeks that followed TEDx Fairfield University, the TED organization sent a confidential email survey to audience mem- bers. “I’m happy to report,” shared Maroney, “TEDxFairfieldUniversity scored a nine out of 10.”

Dean Heist was not surprised. “The day ex- ceeded my expectations,” he said, “and was a fitting celebration of the 25th anniversary of the School of Engineering.” 

Other Articles in the Spring 2020 Issue

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Alumni Profile: Christopher Pilkerton ’95

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Growing Faith

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Spike in the Right Direction

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Sparks of Hope

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Play It Loud

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Letter from the President

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