Bridgeport: History and Destiny - UBridgeport hosts 1st TEDx

TEDx logo art by Amanda Nettle and Kayleigh Zaczkiewicz

The University of Bridgeport hosted its first-ever TEDx event on November 12. The event focused on the historical heritage of the city of Bridgeport and how it serves as a model for other communities as humanity confronts a changeful future. The panel speakers included Craig Lennon, UB Dean of Students; Natalie Pryce, Founder, Pryceless Consulting; Tarek Sobh, UB Executive Vice President & Founding Dean, College of Engineering, Business and Education; and Nithin Eapen, founder, Belpointe Crypto Index.

Craig Lennon

Lennon opened the talks with History, hope, and humanity: Lessons in building community explaining the importance of connecting with people. “Connections should be easier” in this digital age, “but the tech world often leaves us more unconnected as we connect with devices and not people.” Emphasizing the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, he stressed the importance of humanity towards others. Lennon noted, “We owe our successes to the families and communities we come from. We are bound to them in ways that we can’t always see. If everyone were treated like family there would be one UB, one Bridgeport, one family.”

Natalie Pryce

In Natalie Pryce’s talk, Bridgeport’s role in the future of work, she related her own experience with long-term unemployment and how it led to a career working with job seekers. “Longevity in the workforce is no longer that long, so we need to start developing new skills and continuously work to develop them,” she emphasized. “Bridgeport has always been a city of innovation and a place for immigrants, but we need to reimagine work, education and how we educate.” Pryce further explained the roles universities have to the communities they serve. “They need to tap into the knowledge of informal as well as formal training, and be prepared to meet the needs of a global economy.”

Tarek Sobh

Sobh’s talk, A journey to the center of Bridgeport: a brand new world amidst innovation and technology, drew parallels from his career choices and happenstance, as well as how his own apprehensions in life led to some of his greatest achievements. “Life can’t be scripted. Challenges can be the best opportunities,” Sobh offered. “Getting out of your comfort zone extends to education. To do something useful and exciting for humanity, you have to transcend the boundaries of various disciplines.”

At the University of Bridgeport, he saw an opportunity to do something truly exceptional, innovating technologies by combining programs like engineering and music, and mechanical engineering and computer science. Sobh concluded, “education should be dynamic, experiential and conducive to making students lifelong learners. It’s training students for the jobs that don’t yet exist.”

Nithin Eapen

In Nithin Eapen’s talk, How can small cities attract people and keep growing?, Eapen examined the growth and decline of cities and how these cities experienced tremendous growth with opportunities created from innovation and jobs. Tracking an ‘S’ curve of growth and decline, Eapen compared the cycle of the growth of cities to that of industries. According to Eapen, Apple has sustained their long-term growth because they were able to re-emerge with new technologies, while companies like Kodak perished because they failed to innovate with the emergence of digital photography.

Eapen made a similar analogy with Bridgeport. “The growth peaked after WWII and the maturity period has been going on for too long,” he stated. “For cities like Bridgeport to ride the next ‘S’ curve, they need to attract capital from small and big businesses, as well as people. The University can help attract people with curriculums that are ahead of the curve and lead to good jobs.”

TEDx reception

TEDx reception

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxUBridgeport, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxUBridgeport event, TED Talks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

TEDxUBridgeport organizers

TEDxUBridgeport event organizers included UB students Diter Bitri, president of UB Student Government Association (SGA), Milton de Castro Mondlane, Amanda Nettle, Kayleigh Zaczkiewicz, Matheus Moreira Lima and Neeta Devilal Parashar. The TEDxUBridgeport Livestream can be viewed on Facebook.