TedxPenn 2015: 10x the Impact

16 ideas worth spreading, 1,000 attendees worth meeting, 1 conference worth attending.

For the past ten months, a team of 30 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania quietly worked to create the biggest TEDx event the school has ever seen (in fact, the event increased ten-fold from previous years). On April 12, 2015, it all came to life.

TEDxPenn2015 took place on the West Philadelphia campus at the Annenberg Zellerbach Theater, running the whole day from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Striking a balance between spectating and socializing, the event’s four sessions (titled Retrospect, Discovery, Spark, and Ripple Effect) were separated by interactive breakout sessions. In these social spaces, attendees observed 3D printer demonstrations, purchased publications by the speakers, spoke with speakers and other attendees, and wrote their answers to the question and event theme, “What Lies Ahead?” on a large red X.

Highlights of the event included Spencer Penn’s inspiring journey to creating his own tooth-decay fighting gum company in India, Jack Park’s moving words about mental health and suicide prevention, Judy Gelle’s eye-opening photos of 4th grade students around the world, and Dan Huh’s innovative research on placing engineered organs on microchips, among other fantastic talks and performances, some of which galvanized standing ovations.

In all, many considered the day “one of the most rewarding and genuinely interesting events” they had ever been to. An attendee, Ishmam Ahmed quoted on an Instagram post (with the hashtag #tedxpenn), “It’s not every day that you get to hear about the future from a green architect, a classical historian, a marine biologist, a roboticist, a psychologist — and more — all in one place.”

The Mack Institute is proud to be a sponsor of TedxPenn. Check out photos from the event above, keep a look out for our videos, and sign up to the TEDxPenn listserv for information about future events.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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