TEDx Wake Forest U – and I go way back.

UNCG IARc 2012

UNCG IARc 2012

My friend Jan Detter linked me up with the team of students from the inaugural TEDxWakeForestU executive committee in 2012. They asked students from UNCG Interior Architecture program to design and build the set. This was my first opportunity to be a part of a team building a stage set.


I still remember the very first TED Talk I watched. Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation “Do Schools Kill Creativity” holds the record for the most watched TED Talk, that was the one that hooked me. My friend from The StoryLine Project, Jan Detter, introduced me to Sir Robinson. I was introduced to many things I had never heard of by my friends at StoryLine, and I was always delighted by the things these folks introduced to me. That is why I had no hesitations when Jan asked if I could help out with the inaugural TEDxWakeForestU event in 2012. I was immediately impressed with the level of complexity that the students were mastering while working out last minute logistics for the speakers, facilities crews, and stage crews. I was intrigued by the crew of students from UNCG Interior Architecture that showed up on Friday afternoon, 20 hours before show time. They had great energy, and I found myself right in the middle of them as they figured out how to assemble the thousands of laser cut cardboard pieces they brought with them for the stage set. We stayed up late that cold night, and started early the next day assembling the components. I LOVED being a part of the crew. You know, I’ve always been envious of the crew setting up the stage for a concert or show, much more so than feeling any desire to be a performer.

Over the course of the two days I volunteered for the event I also worked behind the scenes to assist transporting and cueing the speakers before and during the show. I was the oldest guy on the crew, but being around so many college students working so hard made me feel so young and energetic. I met lots of interesting people during that show. The opportunity came at a time when I was trying to figure out who I was going to be when I grew up. I know this experience made it easier for me to choose to go back to school and get a degree in Architecture. This opportunity also made me known to the executive committee for TEDxWakeForestU. They pass down notes each year, and underclassmen move up into lead roles each year, so I had an in.

Preview of 2016 set

Preview of 2016 set

I have been able to assist in some capacity almost every year since 2012. Last year I only supplied oversite for the construction of the set, and led Wake Forest students to assemble the final set. This year the executive committee chose to allow me to lead a team of students from Salem College and Forsyth Tech to design and build the set. I am very impressed by the way my team is problem solving and being resourceful. I have a design ideology – Design By Conversation, and my team is reinforcing my confidence in the technique. As we ideate and reiterate we explain our ideas, and absorb others ideas to adapt our own. The results is ideas that would likely be left undiscovered otherwise.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about the set design for 2016. TEDxWakeForestU 2016 will be on Feb. 20.

TEDxWakeForestU 2012

TEDxWakeForestU 2013

TEDxWakeForestU 2014

TEDxWakeForestU 2015

TEDx 2016 Design/Build Team

 TEDxWakeForestU 2016 will be an opportunity for our community see the results of college students with different skill sets trusting each other to do their part to create something powerful and beautiful. I am leading a team of design students from Salem College and Forsyth Tech to build the set for the event. 


Wake Forest University, Salem College, and Forsyth Tech students collaborate to bring TEDx to Winston-Salem.


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TEDxWakeForest U 2016, Wake Forest University’s fifth annual TEDx conference, is set to take place on campus in Wait Chapel on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The TEDxWakeForestU conference started in 2012 by student activist and campus leader, Lucy Lan, in order to promote technology entrepreneurship on the Wake Forest campus. The event is planned and executed each year by a team of independent WFU students that coordinate speakers from various fields, disciplines, and parts of the globe.

This year’s theme is Haven: Fearlessness Reimagined will deal with security in the broadest sense. The conference’s eight impressive speakers will present on topics ranging from food security, to the eradication of human trafficking in America and abroad, to the future of IT and network security. This year’s talks will paint a picture of a secure and comfortable future in a world that is becoming more and more unpredictable every day.

The set design for this year’s TEDxWakeForestU event will be designed and built by a team of students from the Salem College design program and the Forsyth Tech Architecture program. The team was developed by Alan Shelton. Shelton is a graduate of the Forsyth Tech Architecture program and is currently studying as a design student at Salem College. Shelton has been a consultant on past TEDxWakeForestU set designs, and lent his talents to the TEDx Greensboro stage as well.

Shelton says, “The 2016 event has a theme and topics that cover a large swath of issues having great impacts on our world. Designing a set that compliments the theme of the event and is well thought out and well executed is perfectly aligned with the work students do in the design programs at Salem and Forsyth Tech.”

Set Design/Build Team:

Alan Shelton – Recent graduate of FTCC Architecture Technology Program, and Junior at Salem College, majoring in design with a concentration in Architecture, minoring in Entrepreneurship. Alan is CoFounder and President of the non-profit corporation Winston-Salem MIXXER, that is opening a community workshop studio in 2016. Alan has lead design/build teams for numerous TEDx events.

Molly Blanchard – Molly is a Junior at Salem College with a Studio Art Major and double minor in Art History and Graphic Design. She has been a stage manager at Salem since her freshman year. Molly has experience in stage set building.

Amy Smith –  Amy has a diverse portfolio including attending UNCSA, NCSU Archaeological Field School in Palau, and she is currently working to complete the AAS Program in Architecture Technology at Forsyth Tech, as well as a BSBA in Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. Amy and her husband hope to develop a plan to repurpose abandoned infrastructure to accommodate efficient indoor horticulture and aquaponics in “food-desert” conditions.

Kameron Dozier – Kameron will graduate from the Architecture Technology program at Forsyth Tech in summer of 2016. Kameron uses his artistic and math skills to design interesting architectural elements. He intends to use his skills to own a home restoration business.

Denton Hinshaw – Denton, a Forsyth Tech Architecture Technology student, has been designing and building since childhood, when he designed and built miniature landscapes. Denton has standing offers for work as a draftsman in the construction industry, and plans to own his own construction company in the future.

Jake Denton – Jake is in his first semester in the Architecture Technology program at Forsyth Tech. Jake has worked as a carpenter for Habitat of Humanity of Forsyth County after completing the Carpentry program at Forsyth Tech in 2013. Jake is a community focused builder, and hopes to travel abroad using his skills to help others.

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Molly, Jake, Alan, Amy, Kameron, and Denton

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)


About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED or Instagram at https://instagram.com/ted.