Connecting with TEDxUWA

Thea Kurniawan

Bachelor of Science student and TEDxUWA

Thea Kurniawan brings a new definition to ‘pursuing impossible’. The Bachelor of Science student is currently completing work experience, managing an eco-enterprise and preparing for next semester’s study. 

Thea manages her engineering studies while running TEDxUWA. This newly established organisation was initiated after Thea embarked on exchange to Tsinghua University in Beijing last year and got involved in a similar club.

“TEDx talks cover just about everything in the most engaging of perspectives. I was amazed at how speech can be such a powerful took for expression. The thought of organising a world-class conference based on the power of ideas to change lives, attitudes and, ultimately, the world seemed like a heavy task, but it was a challenge I was eager to take on.”

Back at UWA, Thea noticed a disconnection between faculties and research areas and believed TEDxUWA could be the solution. In three months, more than 450 people around Australia seemed to agree. From humble beginnings of 3D-printing signs at the mechatronics lab, to inventing merchandise on a limited budget, TEDxUWA is evolving rapidly as a student-run enterprise due to kind support and encouragement from family, friends and the public.

“In order to pursue more impossibles, we must have a synergy of innovation. I feel TEDxUWA will address this issue by providing a platform for students, staff and members of the community to showcase their ideas.”

Thea Kurniawan

“UWA is home to a league of avant-garde researchers, change makers and bright young things. Everyone on campus should be aware of these people—we must welcome a UWA ideas movement. My team and I have never done something like this before, so we’re grateful to have many community members backing us up.”

Being in an environment that provides flexible study options gave Thea the opportunity to start TEDxUWA. She says UWA’s course structure allows students to highlight other interests, creating well-rounded and resilient individuals. 

“I’ve been on an insightful academic journey so far, thanks to the enthusiast academic and support staff, as well as collaborating with inquisitive students. Jobs are no longer achieved by following a rigid pathway of studying a strict set of units; there’s a new breed of careers that combine different subject areas and skills.”

Following her studies, Thea hopes to blend her two favourite subjects into her career: engineering and education.

“I hope to redefine the educational system for young learners, especially when it comes to implementing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) in the curriculum. Fostering an enthusiasm to tackle hands-on challenges and real-world problems from an early age will lead to more pioneering discoveries in the near future.”

More widely, Thea is set on breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ of women working in the resources and engineering sectors around the world, and instilling more courage and perseverance in women to pursue further study and a career within the STEAM sector, fusing creativity within maths and science. In TED terms, it’s an “idea worth spreading”.

“These are not impossibles. They are realistic and top-priority world-issues. Issues that we can further bring awareness to the community through TEDx events. Ideas inspire ideas, so let’s help spread them.”

Thea Kurniawan

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