Steven Nikolidakis

Student, The Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science and Art
East Elmhurst, NY, United States

About Steven

Bio

Steven is a senior Civil Engineer at The Cooper Union. He has recently become interested in Biomedical Engineering after enrolling in several courses related to the field at The Cooper Union. Steven will be applying to Graduate Programs in the NYC area for a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering once he graduates from The Cooper Union.

Steven has been a member of The Cooper Union Men’s Basketball Team for all four years he has attended the school. He is also a member of a Cretan Folk Dance group in Astoria, New York, with which he has traveled to national competitions all over the country. Steven also enjoys fishing, track and field, and traveling the world.

Languages

English, German, Greek, Spanish

Areas of Expertise

Civil Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Greek language

I'm passionate about

Basketball, Research, Medicine, Travel, Languages

Talk to me about

Cretan Folk Dancing, Basketball, Civil Engineering, Traveling in Europe

People don't know I'm good at

Scrabble, Track and Field, Folk Dancing

My TED story

Although I have watched a few TED talks in the past, I did not become engaged in the TED community until I enrolled in the Bioelectricity course at The Cooper Union. The professor of the course is a TED fellow, and has exposed the class to the world of TED in order to enhance our experience in the classroom.

Comments & conversations

144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Can we "engineer" our own interests through repeated exposure?
Yu-An, I also agree that it is a combination of the two. Although the small events might not have as much of an impact immediately, because of the elongated exposure time that we have to them, they could also have the same effect in the long run. By having only one specific experience, it might be disregarded after a certain time period. However, I also see why those are important. If there is one big event in life which changes your outlook towards something, and therefore causes you to avoid/cherish it more, that could also provide a life altering influence. This seems to happen in the education system with subjects such as math and science. If a student is put down by the teacher over one subject through negative reinforcement, the student might purposely avoid and lose interest in that subject.
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Pat, Thank you very much for your comment. I really enjoyed your thoughts; especially the last paragraph. By being interdisciplinary, you allow yourself to quickly adapt to the changing world around you, including technologically, as you mentioned. Once you are too deep in a subject, if for some reason it turns out to be obsolete, it will be much more difficult to adapt to the changing conditions than if you have a wide background. You also share this philosophy with American theorist Karl Weick: "Generalists, people with moderately strong attachments to many ideas, should be hard to interrupt, and once interrupted, should have weaker, shorter negative reactions since they have alternative paths to realize their plans. Specialists, people with stronger attachments to fewer ideas, should be easier to interrupt, and once interrupted, should have stronger, more sustained negative reactions because they have fewer alternative pathways to realize their plans. Generalists should be the upbeat, positive people in the profession while specialists should be their grouchy, negative counterparts." -Karl Weick As you can see, he states that it is harder for specialists to adapt once "interrupted." This idea can also be applied to other species. There exist what are call specialist and generalist species. For example, one well-known specialist species is the koala, which relies primarily on eucalyptus leaves for nourishment. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page if you are interested in other examples of specialist and generalist species. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalist_and_specialist_species Thanks again!
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Nicolette, I think this quote by the philosopher and economist Bernard Mandeville really captures what you are saying: "But if one will wholly apply himself to the making of Bows and Arrows, whilst another provides Food, a third builds Huts, a fourth makes Garments, and a fifth Utensils, they not only become useful to one another, but the Callings and Employments themselves will in the same Number of Years receive much greater Improvements, than if all had been promiscuously followed by every one of the Five." He, along with yourself, seems to indicate that specialization in fields is definitely needed (and preferred), not only for the society, but also to advance the field in isolation. His Hut-builder can easily be compared to your doctor who knows a certain procedure "inside and out." I find both of your ideas of having the person who is an expert in a certain field conduct that specific task very interesting, although I seem to believe a mix between the two is needed. Thank you for your comment!
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Andrew, I completely agree with you here. I also tend to indulge deeper into subjects that I find interesting and that catch my attention, leaving out the ones I am not as interested in. Over time this causes a specialization in a general area and that is only bolstered by our education system as you point out. You make an interesting point comparing the education system to a hierarchy where a PhD is considered to be the top. Seems as if we are led to believe that by specializing deeply in one topic, we have attained the most "knowledge possible." I have found a quote from 1948 by American scholar Richard Weaver showing exactly that we just alluded to: The former distrust of specialization has been supplanted by its opposite, a distrust of generalization. Not only has man become a specialist in practice, he is being taught that special facts represent the highest form of knowledge. Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: 1948), p. 59
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Nikhil, Thank you for your comment. Being an engineering student, I definitely see the importance and necessity of interdisciplinary work and using different fields to compliment each other. I am also interested on your thoughts as to why you think schools put subjects in silos, or even how that affects society. Fritzie Reisner, in her comment on this thread, seems to think that it is the individuals who yearn for this specialization in one field, while you think it is more because of the education system. However, both of you do agree that interdisciplinary work is what society needs. I would love to hear your thoughts, and would also appreciate if you would let me know when you're done with your book. Here is a quote by R. Buckminster Fuller on the problem of society operating on the theory of specialization which you could think about including in your book, or just enjoy for yourself. Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking. - R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983), Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, 1963
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Asha, Thank you very much for your reply, and I'm glad you enjoyed the question. I completely agree with you on the fact that we need both in society. Being too specialized and closed-minded will not allow you to experience where you fit in, or as you call it "see the big picture," bringing about stagnation. However, if everyone was just full of general knowledge, then individual fields would have trouble advancing without these "experts" to push them forwards. This is a quote by the economist and philosopher Henry Hazlitt which I thought agrees with your position that there is a problem to both if examined individually: "The dilemma is this. In the modern world knowledge has been growing so fast and so enormously, in almost every field, that the probabilities are immensely against anybody, no matter how innately clever, being able to make a contribution in any one field unless he devotes all his time to it for years. If he tries to be the Rounded Universal Man, like Leonardo da Vinci, or to take all knowledge for his province, like Francis Bacon, he is most likely to become a mere dilettante and dabbler. But if he becomes too specialized, he is apt to become narrow and lopsided, ignorant on every subject but his own, and perhaps dull and sterile even on that because he lacks perspective and vision and has missed the cross-fertilization of ideas that can come from knowing something of other subjects."
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
Thank you for your comment. I agree that there would have to be a balance between the two, and doubt there is a "right" balance for today's society. There is definitely an importance in being open-minded to many subjects and being able to find similarities and common ground between them. I also see why you would say that the default in today is to be a specialist. Why do you think that is? Is there an innate drive in humans to want to focus and hone in on just one field, or is that guided by society/education system?
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
What is the power behind a shared experience?
I definitely also agree that good deeds are contagious. However, I also see sharing experiences with other people and sharing love as another important factor in this question. By being around a certain group of people and experiencing similar circumstances, whether it being food, scenery, etc., feedback which is shared by this group of people is sent back to the brain. The more shared experiences there are, the more comfortable you will feel around these people. By sharing experiences, ideas can be spread and propagated between a group, which can be beneficial to all parties involved.
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
How are different body parts connected to the emotions we traditionally associate with them?
The first organ that I thought of to answer this question was also the skin, so I’m glad to see other people had already made a reference to it. I was in an interview last week and realized my palms started getting sweaty, indicating to me that I was getting nervous. Other than emotions which were previously mentioned about hair standing up or goosebumps, the skin also works with the circulatory system to show emotion. For example, when one gets embarrassed, he/she will blush and show a reddish tint. Fear on the other hand causes skin to go pale. What is interesting to note, however, is that these are all biological responses to something we are experiencing at the time, to which we have tagged an emotion to accompany them. For example, your face getting pale when you are afraid is a direct consequence of your body’s “fight or flight” response, where blood rushes to vital organs and away from non-essential ones like your face. We have thus connected this pale look to the sensation of fear.
144770
Steven Nikolidakis
Posted over 2 years ago
What makes an idea spread? Duration? Quality? Loudness?
If I had to choose one out of the three, it would have to be quality. People are interested, enjoy, and are willing to put time into things that they are not accustomed to. This depends on the originality, creativity, and personal factors that vary between people. However, all three definitely do play a role. The overarching theme in how ideas spread, however, is the timing. This can make or break whether the idea flourishes or is never again revisited. A perfect example here is WikiLeaks. In a time when the world was unstable, and trust in government was a major issue, Assange was able to get the whole world on board in uncovering hidden truths, something which could not be fathomed beforehand. Although WikiLeaks is high quality material, and it was “loud,” I think timing was the biggest factor in how quickly it spread.