TEDx speakers to encourage innovation, focus on culture

Riley Guerzini, News Editor


When Ryan Loehrlein told his friends and family he wanted to audition for TEDxEvansville, they looked at him like he was crazy.

Loehrlein, one of three USI speakers at this year’s TEDxEvansville event, will present his talk “Innovation from a Spark of Curiosity” Friday, Oct. 27 in the Performance Center.

The event features 11 speakers who will present their less than 18-minute talk from 12 – 5 p.m. centered around the theme “Grow.”

Loehrlein’s speech will focus on the rationale behind creating his invention the “Guardian Angel,” a drone developed to ensure the safety of law enforcement officers in hostile situations. Loehrlein began work on the drone his senior year of high school, which he has continued to develop and has led to the creation of his business Guardian Aviation Technology.

“I believe that anybody can do anything as long as they have the determination and desire to actually push forward,” the Junior Mechanical Engineering and Business Finance major said. “I just want anybody to feel like as long as they have a little bit of curiosity, they can achieve anything.”

Since being selected as a speaker by the TED curatorial team in July, Loehrlein has been refining his speech, even working with a coach to make sure his speech flows smoothly.

“It’s a lot of refining and a lot of work compared to what I was thinking a TED talk was actually going to be,” he said. “You see the people get in front of the audience and you think it’s just so smooth but it takes hundreds of hours to get to that level.”

Assistant Professor of Political Science Trent Engbers will be presenting his speech “Cookies, Connections and Currency,” which is about the connections between relationships and economic development.

“About 7 or 8 years ago, I was working on my dissertation and exploring how economic development affects our social relationships,” he said. “I kind of flipped that idea to how the nature of social characteristics affects economic development.”

Engbers said the talk is done and he is currently working on the presentation and how to communicate his topic to the audience.

“One of the goals I have is to keep the audience engaged and entertained,” he said. “My hope is that they will think about economic development in new and different ways.”

Tickets for the event are on sale now at www.TEDxEvansville.com. General admission is $50 and $25 discount for students. There will be an overflow room in the University Center that will broadcast the talks throughout the day.

Paul Doss, a professor of geology, said his talk will center on how environmental problems will require cultural and social changes.

“The need to address a particular problem has really moved beyond the science now,” he said. “It’s in the hands of society.”

Doss first discovered his passion for environmental sciences when he was a kid.

“I just loved the outdoors and pretty much spent as much time as I could there,” he said. “I found a lot of value in wildness and in natural areas.”

Doss said the most difficult part of his preparation has been finding the time to work on the speech. He said he hopes the talk will be simple and profound for the audience and they recognize that society represents a collection of individual behaviors.

“While for any one thing people may not consider what they do as an individual to be significant, if everybody feels that way then that’s a problem,” he said. “People need to start realizing that they are a very tangible part of a bigger system.”