Engineers Participate in Villanova’s TEDx Talks

Dr. C. Nataraj, Professor and Director, Center for Analytics of Dynamic Systems

The College of Engineering was well represented at “Let’s Imagine,” Villanova’s third TEDx event held on October 23 in Driscoll Hall. C. Nataraj, PhD, the Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Moritz Sr. Endowed Professor of Engineered Systems, and Director of the Villanova Center for Analytics of Dynamic Systems; and Benjamin Bogardus, Graduate Fellow for International Development and Sustainability in the Sustainable Engineering master’s degree program, were two of the day’s 12 presenters.

A Role for Engineers in Medical Diagnostics

In “How engineers can help doctors save lives,” Dr. Nataraj described the human body as a complex dynamic system that cannot be fully understood by conventional medical diagnostics. Given the diversity of the human race, it is difficult to define “normal,” and as a result millions of patients are incorrectly diagnosed each year, leading to unnecessary treatments and death. Dr. Nataraj believes engineers can offer a solution. “Physics, mathematics and computer algorithms can be used effectively and intelligently to make this situation a whole lot better.”

During his talk, Dr. Nataraj discussed these ideas and shared results from research he is conducting with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). In collaboration with CHOP doctors, he is applying a machinery diagnostic approach to studying data on periventricular leukomalaci, a mysterious neurological damage that occurs in neonates.

Watch Nat’s TEDx talk here. 

Benjamin Bogardus, Graduate Fellow for International Development and Sustainability

How do those you’re Helping Define Success?

Based on his years of experience, Bogardus presented “How to measure the success of international development projects.” This past summer, together with five Villanova undergraduates and representatives from Catholic Relief Services, he spent three months in Madagascar researching the sustainability of rural water systems. From 2010–2013, he served with the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa.

Bogardus used photos to show the audience how the developing world is littered with decaying infrastructure: broken water pumps, empty libraries and crumbling latrines. “Many individuals and organizations in the first world are eager to conduct well-intended projects in these countries,” he explains, “however, before beginning, they should compare their definition of success to that of the local people.”

Watch Bogardus’s TEDx talk.

TEDx VillanovaU

TEDx VillanovaU captures the spirit of TED itself: cross-disciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. The event consists of a suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder—and to provoke conversations that matter.

In addition to Dr. Nataraj’s and Bogardus’s topics, 2015 talks included: “Igniting the Social Justice Generation,” “Changing the Face of Poverty,” and “Caregiving and Lessons of Love.” The TEDxTalks channel on YouTube features videos of past Villanova speakers, and 2015 presenters will soon be added to the mix.