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Theme: Ambition

Hamilton, Ontario
13 December 2019
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The Conference

One Day of Powerful Speakers
13 Dec 2019
08:00 am

David Braley Health Sciences Centre

Main Auditorium, 2nd Floor

100 Main St W, Hamilton, ON

L8P 1H6, Canada

A day filled with brilliant speakers, thought-provoking videos and mind-blowing conversations. TEDxMcMasterU is a unique event that will unleash new ideas, inspire and inform. No McMaster University affiliation is required to attend.

All tickets include full access to all TEDx talks, musical performances, delicious food from Chez Dine, Jonny Blonde & Esha's Eats, and access to an exclusive social event hosted by McMaster Innovation Park & Nickel Brook Brewing Co. at the Art Gallery of Hamilton where you'll have the opportunity to explore the galleries, sip, munch, and mingle with speakers and guests.


We guarantee that this will be a one-of-a-kind event.

The Conference


Registration, TED videos & morning snack hosted by Chez Dine

8:00 AM

Performance by McMaster Breakers
Breakdance crew

9:00 AM

TEDx Talk by Dr. Maureen MacDonald
Dean of Science & Professor at McMaster University

9:25 AM

TEDx Talk by Mr. Mark John Stewart
Executive Advisor at Empowerment Squared, Managing Director of Wentworth Strategy Group & President of FlyPrint

9:55 AM

Performance by Owen Ferguson
Classical Guitar

10:20 AM

TEDx Talk by Mr. Jeff Joslin
Former UFC Fighter & First Canadian to Win an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament

10:35 AM

TEDx Talk by Ms. Kayl McCann
Training Director at McCann Professional Dog Trainers, 20 Time Agility World Champion

11:05 AM

Lunch hosted by Jonny Blonde & Esha's Eats
Performances by Conor Marko & Ethan Luce

11:30 AM

Performance by Qiang Luo
Chinese Classical Dance

12:30 PM

TEDx Talk by Dr. Natalie Schmitt
Conservation Scientist & Science Documentary Presenter

12:50 PM

TEDx Talk by Mr. Pauly Plewa
Race Car Driver & Recovering Paraplegic

1:20 PM

TEDx Talk by Dr. Derek Thong
McMaster PM&R Resident Physician and Medical Device Innovator

1:45 PM

TEDx Talk by Ms. Gwen Madiba
Women & Children's Rights Advocate, Former Model & Designer

2:15 PM

Afternoon snack break hosted by Chez Dine

2:35 PM

TEDx Talk by Mr. Dylan Horvath
CEO & President of Cortex Design, XPRIZE Winner

2:55 PM

Performances by Sneha Wadhwani & Absolute Pitch
Slam Poetry & Show Choir

3:25 PM

TEDx Talk by Ms. Narinder Dhami
Top 40 under 40, Managing Director of LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact - a non-profit organization spun out of Boston Consulting Group

3:50 PM

TEDx Talk by Ms. Riya Karumanchi
CEO of SmartCane & High School Student

4:15 PM

End of program

5:00 PM

Social event hosted by McMaster Innovation Park &
Nickel Brook Brewing Co. - all ticket holders welcome
Hamilton Art Gallery located at 123 King St W, Hamilton, ON

5:00 - 7:00 PM


About TEDx

What is TEDx?

TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Past TED speakers have included business leaders, academics, politicians, artists, and Nobel laureates, amongst other distinguished individuals.

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 Talk videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These nonprofit events are made possible by the passion of volunteers committed to spreading meaningful ideas.



Past Events





Speaker Lineup

Ready to be inspired? These dynamic speakers hail from from far and wide to share their learnings, stories, and ideas with you.

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Dr. Maureen MacDonald
Dean of Science & Professor at McMaster University
Maureen MacDonald is the first woman to serve as Dean of Science at McMaster University. A highly respected researcher and regarded expert in cardiovascular health, exercise physiology, spinal cord injury and aging, she leads important research into the effectiveness of exercise as a way of preventing illness, improving health status and lifestyle. Maureen is a professor with the Department of Kinesiology and a visiting professor with the School of Sport Science Exercise and Health at Loughborough University.  Her commitment to students was recognized in 2018 with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Mentorship Award. Learn more
Mr. Dylan Horvath
CEO & President of Cortex Design, XPRIZE Winner

Dylan Horvath is an engineer, industrial designer and entrepreneur who explores how to use design to improve human experiences. He is the President and CEO of Cortex Design, an award-winning product design firm based in Toronto. Dylan and his team design medical devices and consumer products that foster human connection, improve health outcomes, and allow people to do things that they couldn’t before -- everything from wearable devices to portable 3D printers to musical instruments. Learn more

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Ms. Narinder Dhami
Top 40 under 40, Managing Director of LEAP
​​As a leader in social finance, Narinder Dhami catalyzes large-scale change and equips the next generation of leaders to “do good, better”. She is a Top 40 Under 40 2019 honouree, is the Managing Director of LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, an innovator in venture philanthropy. Dedicating her life to social impact, Narinder has been recognized as a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader and formerly sat on the Global Council for Pro Bono. She has also worked across West Africa, growing the Première Agence de Microfinance across Burkina Faso, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire and deploying impact investments to social enterprises across Ghana and Nigeria with Acumen. Learn more
Dr. Natalie Schmitt
Conservation Scientist & Science Documentary Presenter
Natalie is a conservation scientist and documentary film presenter in major media. Her research has spanned from small marsupials to Tasmanian devils, snow leopard, humpback whales, and the largest of them all, the Antarctic blue whale. Her work with whales has helped inform Australia’s policy position at the International Whaling Commission. She is currently developing a paper-based species detection technology which may completely revolutionize the ability to monitor wildlife. She wants to show how a simple method to detect snow leopard in the field, has expanded to new, unlimited levels for wildlife conservation by simply trusting her heart.
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Mr. Jeff Joslin
Former UFC Fighter & First Canadian to Win an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament
Jeff “The Inferno” Joslin is a martial artist in the truest sense of the term. Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he grew up in a family of martial artists. Starting his training at five years of age, he won over 200 first place finishes in multiple styles of martial arts during a competitive career that spanned more than two decades. As a professional MMA fighter Jeff endured a long, challenging road to reach the pinnacle of the sport, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He now runs a highly successful martial arts school in Hamilton.
Dr. Derek Thong
McMaster PM&R Resident Physician and Medical Device Innovator
Dr. Thong is currently a PM&R resident at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. In this capacity he serves individuals living with chronic illnesses and impairments to improve their quality of life.  Prior to medicine, he earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto, and worked as a strategy and finance consultant at Accenture and E&Y in Asia and North America. More recently, Dr. Thong has been involved with medical device innovation and has completed his fellowship in Biodesign at Stanford University.
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Ms. Riya Karumanchi
CEO of SmartCane & High School Student
​Riya is a 16-year-old student from Toronto, Ontario. She is the CEO of SmartCane and is extremely passionate about harnessing technology to better people’s lives. Riya is an Innovator at The Knowledge Society, an avid ML developer and she was recognized as one of the Top 20 Teen Entrepreneurs Worldwide. She’s also very honoured to be recognized as Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21, having spoken at conferences worldwide, including WE Day, the MoveTheDial Summit and Pharma Blockchain UK. Learn more
Ms. Kayl McCann
Training Director at McCann Professional Dog Trainers, 20 Time Agility World Champion
​Kayl McCann is a Professional Dog Trainer specializing in Dog Agility. She is a 20 time World Champion who has been competing Internationally since 2002. Kayl is the Training Director for McCann Professional Dog Trainers, the business her parents started in 1982. It is the largest dog training school in the world, training over 500 family dogs weekly. Along with teaching at the school, Kayl travels across the world teaching seminars and coaching aspiring Agility Trainers. It may seem that she was born into this career, but the ability to remain at the top of her game requires immense hard work, talent and ambition.
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Ms. Gwen Madiba
Women & Children's Rights AdvocateFormer Model & Designer
​Gwen Madiba is an award winning international speaker, women and children's rights advocate. She is the President of Equal Chance, an NGO focused on the promotion of the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of black communities across Canada through the development of projects, programs, activities, events and policies. In 2018, she launched the Education Fund for Orphans in Africa (specifically in Gabon, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo) as she deeply believes that education is a fundamental human right.
Mr. Pauly Plewa
Race Car Driver & Recovering Paraplegic
Pauly is a true racer at heart, having raced motocross for 11 years at the highest level of amateur racing in Canada and the USA. In 2012, on the verge of his AMA professional debut, he suffered a bad crash leaving him instantly paralyzed from the chest down. Being the ambitious child athlete that he was, Pauly taught himself how to walk and race again by applying the tools he learned from his racing career to his rehab. Today, Pauly is chasing championships on four wheels, teaching people about safe driving, and sharing his story about overcoming disability and envisioning wellness.
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Mr. Mark John Stewart
Executive Advisor at Empowerment Squared, 
Managing Director of Wentworth Strategy Group & President of FlyPrint
Mark John Stewart is an award-winning entrepreneur, charitable advisor, public speaker, and instructor. He is the Managing Director of Wentworth Strategy Group and the President of marketing agency FlyPrint. Mark John consults on strategy, marketing, communications, and governance with organizations across the world, and is an instructor in the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program. An experienced board director, he is also an Executive Advisor with Empowerment Squared, a Canadian charity dedicated to empowering newcomers and marginalized youth and communities in Canada, Liberia, Ghana, and South Africa.


In addition to an inspiring speaker lineup, talented performers will be showcasing their musical talents and artistry at TEDxMcMasterU. 

Master of Ceremonies

Ms. Margaret Zanel &

Mr. Joel Schaubel

McMaster Breakers

Breakdance Crew

When people hear the word Breakdance, they usually think of one of two things, danger, and impossibility. However, we as representatives of the McMaster Breaking Club encourage people to express their creativity, engage in the uncomfortable, and challenge the impossible. While our group is composed mostly of students, we want to show that with the curiosity to explore and the drive to innovate, we are capable of so much more and that everyone has the capacity to do great things if they dare to dream.

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Ethan Luce


19-year-old singer-songwriter Ethan Luce brings his thoughts and emotions to the surface through song. Pouring the experiences of his first love, feeling lost in the noise of the world and struggling through the pressures of modern culture into his art, Ethan allows his listeners to step into his psyche.

Qiang Luo

Chinese Classical Dancer

Qiang is a diligent Chinese classical dancer. He is committed to sharing Chinese dance culture in different communities. He received an Arts degree in political science at the University of Prince Edward Island and an Arts Management graduate diploma from the Queen’s University. Qiang has performed extensively as a Chinese classical dancer in the PEI community. He prides himself on his ability to connect with people from different arts backgrounds and is excited about sharing his culture in Canada.

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Sneha Wadhwani

Slam Poetry

Sneha Wadhwani is a 19 year old bisexual South Asian writer, activist and dreamer in the Arts & Science program at McMaster. Her work centres around making meaning of her reality, and she is grateful that poetry allows her to share that journey.

Absolute Pitch

Show Choir

Established in 2011, McMaster University’s show choir, Absolute Pitch, blends a variety of musical styles ranging from pop, to musical theatre, to R&B. Through fun and productive rehearsals, members work together weekly to learn choreography, and vocals to bring a wonderful show to life. All of the group’s hard work culminates in a year end showcase for all of our friends, family and the general public. From the Broadway and Disney to Legendary Pop Icons, there’s nothing Absolute Pitch cannot do!

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Montana Adams


Montana Adams is a 33 year old native from the Aamjiwaang Reservation near Sarnia, Ontario. He studied in the Fine Arts program at Fanshawe College but has been drawing his entire life. After college he stayed in London ON, where he has gotten into painting a lot more in the last four years. He has started selling his work at art, local crafts, and Powwow vendors throughout Southern Ontario, as well as through his business Facebook page. Montana’s preferred mediums for his pieces are Acrylic, Oil, Watercolour paintings and Charcoal drawings. Montana has also begun expanding his artistic talents into Tattooing at Perfect Image in Brantford. Montana gains inspiration from pop art and any abstract surrealism modes of art.

Conor Marko


Once a slam poet and writer, Conor is now a singer/songwriter based in Hamilton. After playing in punk and metal acts around the GTA, he began releasing his own solo work under the name Harrower. Pairing introspective folk and indie-inspired acoustic guitar with lyrics about his experiences growing up in the Steel City, Conor uses his medium to connect deeply with his listeners.

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Owen Ferguson

Classical Guitar

Owen is a singer-songwriter based in Hamilton that crosses the genre boundaries with every new song. He releases solo songs that range from indie/folk to metal with a little bit of jazz in between. Owen plays in the Hamilton-based band Tall Talks, and he is currently writing and recording a solo indie/acoustic album. His goal is to create the sound of a whole band through just my guitar and voice.

Our Partners

Our Partners

This event would not be possible without the kindness and generosity of our partners. We are so grateful for their support.
Get in touch if you're interested in learning more about how to become an official partner of TEDxMcMasterU.
McMaster Unversity - Office of the Provost
McMaster University - Office of Community Engagement
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The Cotton Factory
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