Students of College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram are organising TEDx talks on campus on February 2

Think different seems to be the motto of a bunch of students of the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET). These final year and third year students from different departments of the college have come together to organise a TEDx event at the college! The independently organised TEDx event titled ‘TEDxCET’ is on February 2 at the CGPU Hall, CET, in two sessions, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

TED, started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, is a non-profit organisation that operates on the theme ‘ideas worth spreading’. At TED conferences, global movers and shakers are invited to talk about their lives and careers, in 18 minutes, which are later made available online for free at TED.com. TEDx, meanwhile, is a self-organised, regional version of TED, conducted under licence that is ‘designed to give communities, organisations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level’. According to the TEDx website, 106 such events were held in December 2012 alone in places as far apart as Ljubljana, Slovenia, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. TEDxCET is one of the first of its kind organised on a college campus in Kerala (incidentally TEDx debuted in the city in Technopark in November 2012).

“We wanted to bring TED’s sharing of ideas culture to our campus, which we believe is the way forward for students like us,” says George Jacob, a final year student of Electrical engineering and the co-organiser of the fete. Tejas Kumar, a final year student of civil engineering, is the main organiser. Getting the license to hold the event was “strenuous”, say the duo. “TED doesn’t hand out licenses just like that. There are a whole lot of rules and processes to go through, including a final online interview with the TED representatives in California, before one can conduct such an event. We get lots of expertise but no financial help from TED. That means that after we secure the license, we are responsible for virtually everything from lighting to getting sponsors to inviting speakers,” adds George.

In keeping with the overall spirit of TED and TEDx, the students have themed their event on the concept of ‘avant-garde’. “The idea is to think and be different and challenge the status quo. Avant-garde is a French term that refers to people or works that are experimental or innovative – those peoples and processes that have tread a different path. TEDxCET is an attempt to explore the power of unconventional thinking,” explains George.

As such the students have invited eight speakers from various fields whose life and/or careers can be termed as path-breaking or avant-garde. Sanjay Vijayakumar, chief executive officer of MobMe, who founded Kerala’s first college start-up along with his college-mates while studying at CET, will give the inaugural speech at the event. Says Sanjay: “TEDxCET is an amazing platform for spreading ideas on technology, entrepreneurship and design. I’m excited for the students as they not only figured out how to organise an international event but are also spreading awareness on global events locally in our engineering colleges. I plan to speak here about the startup revolution happening in Kerala and how the impending smartphone and broadband revolution will create a great opportunity to lead a digital revolution.”

The others speakers are Paul Kronenberg, who, along with Sabriye Tenberken, co-founded Braille Without Borders, classical danseuse Nandita Prabhu, technology entrepreneur, investor and mentor Freeman Murray, Jithin Krishnan, head of public relations at Make A Difference, N.T. Nair, chief editor of Executive Knowledge Lines, P.H. Kurian, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala, and Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, free software activist and chief architect of PirateParty of India.

As part of the event, the students have also organised four cultural programmes – the ritualistic art form of Pulluvan paattu, Kalaripayattu by a prodigy from VKM Kalari Sangham, Kunnamkulam, a performance by Voyage, CET’s in-house band, and a dance performance by the students of the college. Apart from George and Tejas, students who are organising the fete are Mahadev G., Aju Elias, Anjani Bhat, Anne Mary Sebastain, Arathy A., Elizabeth Samuel, Sreeram P. and Sidharth Varma.

Entry to the event is by invite only. However, tickets are available at varied rates for different events. For more information, log on to www.tedxcet.org. or contact: 9496334603/ 808932409 / 9496326960