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Newark Tech Week: TEDxNJIT: Digital Connections (Part 2)

BY Melissa Bee

Newark Tech Week: TEDxNJIT: Digital Connections (Part 2)

This event is a part of Newark Tech Week, a 5-day event celebrating and promoting technology and techies in Brick City. This is part two of our two-part TEDxNJIT review. Click here for part one.

New Jersey Institute of Technology held the third TEDxNJIT on Thursday, April 4 in the Jim Wise Theater. About 1,100 people viewed the event (including live audience and livestream viewers), organized by an NJIT student, Kevin Ly. It was a four-hour conference filled with eloquent and interesting speakers, profound videos, and innovative concepts. It was sponsored by the Brick City Development Corporation (BCDC).

The second half of the event started with a TED Talk video of Clay Shirky discussing the consequences and benefits of circulation of more ideas due to a new technology. He highlighted the use of github to aid democracy. You can view that video here.

Carlos Dominguez of Cisco Systems

The fifth speaker of the event was Carlos Dominguez, an NJIT Board of Trustees member. He is also the Senior Vice President, Office of the Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco Systems, Inc. He is also a technology evangelist, traveling the world to speak to and motivate audiences about how technology is changing the way we communicate, collaborate, and work. “We’re connected in ways that we were never connected before,” he stated, when discussing the topic of the internet of “things.” His example for this was smart streetlights, which would not only turn on when detecting motion, but could also detect water and bioterrorism and would include speakers and digital signage. Because of this connectivity, people are not only connected to each other, but to things around the world. He noted, “Thanks to technology, distance is dead.” He also discussed a new class of data, what he refers to ask data in motion, or real-time data.

Kathleen Uske of NJIT

Next up was the only current student to present, Kathleen Uske, an NJIT Junior in the Albert Dorman Honors College. Her presentation was similar in ideas to that of Donald Sebastian’s about how the healthcare industry could benefit from better connectivity. She focused on statistics of how often elderly patients are sick or injured, as her presentation was centered on the idea of a smart house type hospice where the care of a patient was integrated into the house’s infrastructure by way of communicating patient conditions back to the doctor, or Patient Centered Medical Homes.

A TED Talk video by Daphne Koller was next. Koller is one of the creators of Coursera.org and a Professor at Stanford. Couresera is an internet course website where the best universities’ best professors teach courses through an interactive learning and testing website. She discusses the difficulties of creating the site to work effectively and the benefits of free, high quality college education level courses for the world. You can watch that talk here.

Bernadette Longo & Yvan Yenda

The penultimate presentation was by two speakers, NJIT Professor Bernadette Longo and graduate student from the University of Cape Town, Yvan Yenda. Longo is an Associate Professor of Humanities and has worked in technical and scientific communication. She uses cultural studies to examine technical communication uses within certain cultural contexts, mediated by technological devices. Longo met Yenda on an information design project in the Congo to help local farmers share pricing information to give them a fair chance when dealing with middle men. The problem that arose was, Who would provide trusted pricing information? She explained that this problem nearly curtailed her entire research project. Yenda then took the stage to discuss the problems of finding a solution and its benefits. He explored the relationships between consumers, producers, and the steps in between. He summed up his speech in one question: “What about our connection as consumers to the workforce?” His hopes are that people will consider the workers who mined and crafted the materials that go into our technology products when purchasing and using them.

Dr. Randal Pinkett of BCT Partners

Dr. Randal Pinkett, who has received an honorary NJIT degree, was the last speaker. He is Founder and Chairman of BCT Partners, a consulting and information technology solutions firm which is headquartered here in Newark, at the Enterprise Development Center at NJIT. He is an entrepreneur, scholar, author, and, as we were witness to at TEDxNJIT, motivational speaker. He shared experiences from his entrepreneurial background and some lessons he’s learned, including, “There is more than one answer to the question and there is more than one solution to the problem,” and “If you’re going to fail, fail fast.” He was a very energetic speaker with a lot of memorable quotes. He also assured young entrepreneurs that “a setback is a setup for a comeback.” He ended his speech by sharing with us the power of “AND” pointing out that people should just combine their interests when developing their own career path, stating, “You need not think about your interests as existing in different spheres.”

BCDC, NJIT, & Yelp

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