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TedxUofT is back with helicopters, mustard oil and more

Second annual student-run conference launches March 1

The brief TEDxUofT lectures will also be uploaded to YouTube in addition to the live stream of the conference on March 1 (image by TEDxUofT)

They are the bright minds behind human-powered helicopters, malaria-treating mustard oil, Olympic-level sports psychology and more at the University of Toronto.

And they're coming together March 1 to launch the second annual tri-campus TEDxUofT event hosted at Isabel Bader Theatre and streaming live online.

“We're excited to inspire the next generation of great thinkers to take on impossible challenges, and look forward to sharing our lessons with the U of T community,” said Engineering alumnus Cameron Robertson.

Robertson is set to speak with his AeroVelo Inc. co-founder Todd Reichert about the experiences that led to their win of the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize for completing the first-ever sustained flight of a human-powered helicopter. (Read more about their first flight)

Though the AeroVelo accomplishment rocked the engineering community worldwide, its founders will leave the shop-talk at the door and instead offer their take on the surprising psychological dimensions of what it means to work towards a major goal.

“We hope to foster greater innovation and creativity by exploring our understanding of, and experience with, failure,” said Robertson.

An acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, TED began in the early 1990s as an annual conference in California, with strong ties to Silicon Valley. TED events feature brief lectures on a variety of topics and place a strong emphasis on storytelling, hosting talks from presenters such as Stephen Hawking, Elizabeth Gilbert, Malcom Gladwell and others.

As the lectures were made available for free online in 2006-- with many “TED Talks” going viral—TED started granting licenses for independent organizations to host TED-like conferences, known as "TEDx" events. U of T has hosted a number of successful TEDx events, including the inaugural TEDxUofT last May. (Read about the first TEDxUofT conference)

This year’s speakers include students, alumni and professors such as Vote Compass founder Cliff van der Linden, sports coaching and physiology with Greg Wells, and guitarist Tariq Harb. Research trailblazers and undergraduate Jessie McAlpline, who made international headlines for her work into treating malaria with mustard oil is slated to appear as is Adjunct Professor Lesli Bisgould, Canada’s first animal rights lawyer.

“I'm looking forward to hearing about so many important new ideas and I'm grateful that the time has come that animal rights is considered to be one of them,” said Bisgould, who has acted for individuals and organizations in a variety of animal-related cases in the only practice of its kind in Canada.

“I hope my talk will raise questions in the audience's minds about the exploitative relationship we have with other animals and how we can begin to change it.”

The student-run organizing committee will also provide a live stream of the event starting at 9:40 AM, with viewing parties being hosted on residences of the University of Toronto Scarborough and Mississauga campuses. Like all TEDx events, the talks and performances will later be posted on YouTube.

To stream the event or to learn more, visit www.tedxuoft.com.