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a library’s content to a wider audience. However, licensing agreements limits the number of books that can be read on devices like Amazon’s Kindle. Courant, though, says these policies can eventually change.
“My first crazy idea, which I actually believe though there isn’t a whole lot of evidence for it, is that you can make things better,” he says.
U-M mechanical engineering professor Kathleen Sienko says medical devices invented by her students help poor countries perform medical procedures more safely and efficiently. For example, the students created a device that doctors carry on their motor bikes to provide pelvic exams to villagers throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
“I challenge you as you engage in design projects, be it in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ghana Uganda or elsewhere to immerse yourself in the environment, seek to understand the true needs of the end users,” she told the crowd.
John Denny, a high school student who traveled to Ann Arbor from Grand Blanc on his last Friday of spring break, says he was inspired by the presentations.
“I thought it was really cool and it tells you that even if you’re a kid you can make a difference,” he says.
Kevin Martin traveled from Rochester, NY to attend TEDxUofM, the first time he set foot on a college campus in 30 years.
“I thought there was really good balance,” he says. “There were some speakers that were extreme and a little too on the fringe for me and then there were other speakers that were balancing that.”
Zurbuchen, the aerospace engineering professor, encouraged the crowd to develop their own crazy idea, the best of which will be featured at next year’s TEDxUofM.
“You thought this talk is about space or this talk is about this project but what this talk is really about is a challenge to you,” Zurbuchen says.
O’Dell said the event’s organizing committee will evaluate TEDxUofM based on how people respond to Zurbuchen’s challenge.
“The big question is what’s the impact? Why does this matter?” O’Dell says. “If it doesn’t create action, then it’s a hype machine. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, will this inspire action?”