Inception Of The Spectacular: TEDxNITRourkela
Vision begins with the eyes, but it truly takes place in the brain.
This very quote is the embodiment of what TEDx is. It is the inspiring story of those unique individuals who wanted to make a difference.TEDx events are popular worldwide because of the innovative and extraordinary ideas they instill in our society. On the 13th and 14th of March,2021, TEDxNITRourkela was hosted by a team of students from NIT Rourkela, held virtually over an interactive platform Airmeet the official license of TED. The theme of this year's TEDx talks was 'Learning from The Past,’ and speakers from varying fields gave short, powerful talks, covering each aspect of modern society. The talks were relevant to everyone across the seven seas, igniting the spark to find innovative and revolutionary ideas that defined history.
DAY - 1
The first-day event started at 2:00 PM IST with the day's hosts, Krishnanshu Sharma and Prabhanshu Chaturvedi, members of TEDxNITRourkela, briefing the audience about the agenda of the day. After the initial introductions, the hosts began the event by introducing the Airmeet platform and its technicalities to familiarise the audience with the event platform. They informed the audience of the support channels running via the Google Meet platform should any member face technical difficulties during the event. The hosts also spoke about the diamond jubilee year of NIT Rourkela and the special meaning behind the day the event was being hosted. Coming to the main event, they talked about what TED and the TEDx Program are and also showed a video as an introduction to the TEDx Program. The first day saw the following speakers, who delivered mesmerizing talks on a wide range of topics:
Pranav Khaitan, an alumnus of NIT Rourkela, is a Senior Engineering lead at Google AI, leading teams working on dialogue systems, conversational understanding, recommendations, and on-device intelligence. He has conducted the research and development of AI technologies that power billion-user products, including Search, Chrome, YouTube, and Android. He led the team that assisted the World Food Program, the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize-winning team 2020, in using AI to solve humanitarian aid problems. For more insights into this accolade of his, click here.
His Talk- 'Can AI solve a Humanitarian Crisis?' focused on solving major humanitarian problems with AI. Contrary to the popular belief that AI might work against humanity, Pranav tried to show us how it is one of the most excellent tools at our disposal. When the world is suffering from hunger, overpopulation, pollution, and climate change, AI has been used to tackle them, more often than not yielding positive results. He concluded that AI was crucial in mapping out disaster-affected areas, which helped the WFP provide relief to those affected, and that it will be at our aid in the future.
Sabyasachi Patra is an established cinematographer & filmmaker and founder of “Wild Tiger Productions,” a group of passionate individuals who produce films and documentaries covering natural history and social issues. An alumnus of NIT Rourkela, he is an Experienced Corporate professional turned Filmmaker. Sabyasachi Patra also founded ‘India Wilds,’ which has raised awareness for biodiversity and wildlife conservation in India through various photo collections and documentaries. It currently boasts 3000 members. He has been featured in multiple eminent magazines and organizations and press releases of equipment manufacturers with Adobe Spark, The New Indian Express, YouTube, to name a few. Before turning to Film-making and Photography, Sabyasachi Patra served as the Head of Government Relations at NOKIA and as Executive Director at MAIT.
His Talk- 'Learning from India's Wilds,' was focused on explaining how humans have so much more to learn from nature, despite being an intelligent species, at the top of the food chain. He talked about how so much more is left to discover in the wild and how other animals’ different tactics during their day-to-day lives could be translated to approaching various problems in the corporate world. His analogy to how the methodology behind the competition between two predatory moorhens transitioned wonderfully into a lesson for how sometimes, taking an alternate path can give us an edge whilst facing a competitor in the market—the talk featuring many such lessons along with their nature-driven origins made for a beautiful ten minutes.
Mr. Riki Biswas is the co-founder of numerous revolutionary ventures: Solarstair, Rodo, and, more recently- Point. Pointo, an app-based e-rickshaw booking facility, is an eco-friendly company that brings local commuting into users’ hands. Rodo, the brainchild of Mr. Biswas, is India’s First dock-less public e-bicycle sharing service that aims for a cleaner, greener, hassle-free environment. His roster of technologically outstanding companies also includes Solarstair, which promotes renewable energy and discards the use of non-renewable sources of energy for a better and safer environment.
His Talk- 'Every problem is an Opportunity' - focused on how even major problems are eventually opportunities, teaching us many crucial lessons and helping us grow. Stating examples from his past, he explained how challenges are favorable for a person and how he overcame them to found multiple start-ups. He also explained how sustainability and a green future don't come at the economy’s expense, as green vehicles are the automation industry’s future.
Jeremy from covid19india.org, an open-source initiative that tracked coronavirus's impact in India, is an Engineer and Designer. The crowdsourced effort helped government/medical authorities carry out critical policy-making decisions, enabled over 600 fast-paced research publications, and kept millions of Indians informed during the pandemic. The website received around 1.75 billion hits, even more than GitHub during peak traffic. The website is purely volunteer-based, collecting and analyzing data manually, without automation. It runs on nearly zero resources, thus gathering much praise and global applause for their work that aided even authorities and brought real-time data to ordinary people.
His Talk-"Collaboration has no limits," spoke about his whole experience and the entire ordeal behind the covid19india.org project. He talked about how something that started as an idea for just a primary attempt at contact tracing grew to become a one-stop information center about COVID-19 in India. The endeavor began as a WhatsApp group with all the volunteers helping out in any way they can, and when the speaker joined in, he saw over 300 volunteers already taking part. The project used an open-source framework named ‘React’ to run the website and used GitHub pages as their data access point. The data was maintained using google sheets and updated to the website at 10 minutes using a scheduled script. The whole project was run at zero cost. The speaker also spoke about how this experience would make him understand the pandemic’s large scale and effect on a person’s life.
Following these talks was the closing ceremony of the day, after which the Day-1 successfully ended.
The second day began at 4:00 PM IST on Sunday, 14th March. The hosts started the second day of the event with a short introduction of TED and TEDx and eventually brought on the speakers for the day, featuring:
PROF ANUP NANDY
Professor Anup Nandy from NIT Rourkela is a researcher in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning. He was one of the six Indian scientists selected to present his research in the 5th BRICS Young Scientist Conclave 2020. His remarkable research on developing a pathological health care system for early detection of neurological gait abnormalities, human cognitive state estimation through multi-model gait analysis, and more; has earned him numerous prestigious awards like the NVIDIA GPU Research Grant Award (2018), the Early Career Research Award from SERB, DST, Govt. of India (2017).To know more about him, click here.
His Talk- "Developing accessible pathological health care systems"- elaborated on his remarkable research on developing a pathological health care system for early detection of neurological gait abnormalities, human cognitive state estimation through multi-model gait analysis. The high-intellect talk ironically featured simple and easy solutions to our society’s complex problems and issues for a while now. Mr. Anup took us through his and his team's journey as they developed the system that won them numerous awards and how they thought of the solutions they did. The results did not disappoint from the usage of “Microsoft Kinect”’s as sensors and complex machine learning algorithms.
Ashwathy Satheesan is the winner of the James Dyson award of 2019, at the age of 22, for developing 'Fleo,' a writing aid for people with Parkinson's tremors. A graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, is a product designer and researcher whose projects focus on design activism, circular economy, & the future. Numerous works of hers have been featured at events like the Global Futures Symposium in 2018, RSD8 Symposium in 2019, and the IUS Symposium in 2020. She is currently working as an Industrial designer for IFB Appliances
Her Talk- "Looking outside your Pre Assumptions'' describes her journey towards developing 'Fleo.' Giving examples from her past, she met people who have Parkinson’s tremors and how it had forced them to leave their hobbies and passions. Some of them included painters and writers, who found it difficult to follow their passion using normal pens. Engaging gyroscopic suspension principles, she created a pen for the patients, which uses self-stabilizing components, making it easier for them to draw and write. She emphasized how important it is to overcome your pre assumptions and feel and accept someone else's reality while designing.
Lokesh Gurram is the co-founder of Ditto, by Finshots, a popular and emerging finance bulletin. FInshots was one of the few apps which won the Google Play ‘Best of 2020’ award. The service is a 3-minute daily newsletter on the most important Financial and Business news. An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Lokesh has received the gold medal at the immensely decorated International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) camp held at HBCSE. After doing a thorough and robust job at Samsung research, massively contributing to defining new standards for Wireless networks(Wi-Fi), IoT, digital car keys, Lokesh is now the chief technology builder of Finshots.
His Talk- “Simplifying Financial News in India," was focused on the importance of simplified financial and business news and how it is critical for a nation's development. He explained the contrasting numbers between the west and India, how ordinary Indian people don't invest much, and how one of the primary reasons for this is the stark complexity of financial education. He explained that he wanted to invest his savings to get better returns despite being an engineering student. Since the investment firms he approached had investment policies in complex terms, he felt the need to simplify them for others to find them more accessible. His service is a 3-minute daily newsletter on the most important Financial and Business news in a language that everyone can understand.
Lisa Russel is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, art curator, and Academy Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriting Quarter-Finalist. She has been at the forefront of the arts and storytelling movement in the UN-NGO sector for the past 15 years and was a keynote speaker at the first-ever World Conference on Creative Economy. One of her several creative initiatives includes Create2030, which engages artists and creatives to meet the UNITED NATIONS Sustainable Development Goals.
Her Talk- "Why the Creative Economy needs a UN arts Envoy,” elaborated on how the Biggest Humanitarian organization has no representatives for Creators and Artists worldwide. She explained how there are two different talks- ‘The UN talk’ and the ‘Artist talk’ and how these two “talks” are analogous to the people's different perspectives in these contrasting fields. She talked about how difficult it is for artists worldwide to learn this ‘UN talk’ and how this creates a rift between them and the UN. She expressed the need for a UN arts Envoy for a Creative economy since the UN had declared 2021 as the ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.’ She explained that Artists and Creatives are genuine creators and hustlers, and it was high time that they were given representation in the position of power.
Kabir Cafe, the makers of 'Mat Kar Maya ko Ahankar,’ the ending track featured in the hit series "Scam 1992'’, is a Mumbai-based folk fusion band known for performing songs composed of Saint Kabir's Dohas. The band's lineup consists of Neeraj Arya (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Raman Iyer (Mandolin), Viren Solanki (percussions and drums), Mukund Ramaswamy (violin), and Poubuanpou Britto KC (Bass guitars, backing vocalist). They told the story behind the band's formation and how they came to be known for performing songs composed of Saint Kabir's Dohas. They discussed the idea of presenting Kabir's poetry musically without compromising its lyrical beauty and how they aim at spreading the words of Kabir, referring to him as the band's "First Member."
The Talk was followed by their performance of the song -"Mat Kar Maya Ko Ahankar.”
A vote of thanks followed the performance, where the organizer for the event- Abel Mathew, thanked the speakers, dignitaries, the title sponsors-TATA STEEL, Student Activity Centre, the University: NIT Rourkela on its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, hosts, TEDxNITRourkela Team, and the audience for tuning into the event and making it a massive success.
Organizing an event of this magnitude with a lot of things to take care of, like using a user-friendly platform, technicalities, outreach, public relations, etc., isn’t a cakewalk, especially when it is a first of its kind for NIT Rourkela. Team Monday Morning caught up with Abel Mathew, Organizer of TEDxNITRourkela, to know what all went into organizing a successful event of this level. This is what Abel had to say:
It was a cherishing experience to be the Organizer of TEDxNITRourkela. The very fact that we as a team were successful in getting the license approved and the brand of TEDx as a whole, brought us to the limelight in front of the NITR Administration. Everyone from the Director, Deans to students of NITR were super-glad about the event and looked forward to it. The major challenge was reviving the TEDx culture back in the University after a gap of nearly a decade, since 2012. SAC President Prof. Seemita Mohanty madam and the VPs of the society have been really supportive of this initiative ever since the time we applied for a license a year ago. Our Faculty Advisor Prof. Upender Gundala has always been there for all queries, help and support we ever needed. We are thankful to Dean Alumni Relations, Prof. Abanti Sahoo for making this event part of the year-long Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the University.
He added the following,
One of the first things we tried as an event of NITR, is having our own merchandise store as part of the event which is open to all, with individual shipment across India. This was a successful endeavour as many individuals outside NITR also found it interesting. We plan to apply for Studio License and Salon License from TED, which would enable us to have smaller events spread across the year alongside the annual TEDxNITRourkela flagship event.
Team MM appreciates TEDxNITRourkela for organizing such a successful event and wishes them good luck for all their future endeavors.