x = independently organized TED event

Theme: From the Ground Up

This event occurred on
October 1, 2023
Waterloo, Ontario

Inspired by a world where innovation and creation shape our destiny, our TEDxUW 2023 theme is all about building things – from the ground up. We believe that each of us has the power to bring our ideas to life, by constructing meaningful projects, startups, and initiatives as well as by building ourselves up internally through self-realization, and embracing our own worth. In doing so, we not only validate ourselves for our efforts, but also leave a lasting impact on our personal growth and the world around us. Through this theme, we celebrate our willingness to break free from the comfort of the known, and venture into unexplored realms. Together, at TEDxUW, we will unlock the potential within ourselves and cultivate a community where bold ideas take shape; where we gain the courage to face challenges; and where we grow something new, one seed at a time.

Theater of the Arts (Modern Languages 135)
200 University Ave
Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1
Event type:
University (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Anil Gupta

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Consultant
Anil Gupta is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Consultant who has been working with organizations over the past 2 decades to help build their process capability and culture to continuously improve. Anil is passionate about organizational Excellence bringing together diverse knowledge domains including Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, System Thinking, Data Science, Organizational Strategy, Emotional Intelligence, Personality Type Indicators, and Organizational Culture. He has worked in diverse industries including aerospace, software, healthcare, manufacturing, governments, and not-for-profit in 5 continents. He teaches LSS courses at UofT & McMaster University. Anil has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, UWO; M.Sc. University of Reading, UK; Master Black Belt Certification from the Six Sigma Academy and is currently a doctoral research scholar at the Henley School of Business.

Arda Ocal

ESPN Broadcaster
Arda Ocal is an Emmy Nominated Broadcaster who works at ESPN as an anchor for the NHL on ESPN and SportsCenter. Prior to ESPN, Arda's resume includes MSG Networks where he was an anchor and reporter for New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils game broadcasts, WWE, The Score Television Network, The Weather Network and Rogers TV, where he provided Play by Play and was a reporter for AHL and OHL game broadcasts. Arda also worked for the NHL as the voice of the NHL Gaming World Championships, the league's official Esports tournament. Arda is a video game world record holder and is a member of Mensa. He attended the University of Waterloo, earning a Math/Business degree in 2005. Arda lives in New York with his wife and two daughters.

Camelia Nunez

Professor, Entrepreneur and Mentor
Camelia is an entrepreneurially-minded Prof and business founder with a deep passion for education. She is a polyglot (speaks 7 languages!) who always envisioned herself as a Spanish teacher. Instead, while working on a Phd in Hispanic Linguistics, her entrepreneurial instinct was activated, and staying true to her interest in language learning, she embarked on a different career path: stratup founder and CEO. Camelia co-founded Milao Language, an EdTech startup that provided on-demand conversation opportunities for language learners. Subsequently, Camelia founded Curious U, an international exchange program for highschool students from around the world. Camelia was also the Associate Director of Velocity Incubator, where she worked closely with 100+ startup founders in the Waterloo Region.

Dhananja Jayalath

Vice President of Product at Palmetto
Dhananja Jayalath is a tech industry leader who’s known for co-founding Athos, the world’s first smart clothing company. He served as chief executive officer and chief product officer of the company for a decade, where he raised $50 million in capital, was granted 20+ patents, and was named to the Forbes and Inc. 30 Under 30 lists. Today, Dhananja serves as the vice president of product for Palmetto, a renewable energy company that is dedicated to making home energy more accessible to customers nationwide. He’s also an advisor at Nurosene (CSE: MEND), Marani, Butter and a few stealth startups. He’s been a judge and keynote speaker at Hack the North and received the young alumni of the year award from his alma mater, the University of Waterloo.

Jordan Howlett

Content Creator and President of the Fast Food Secrets Club
Jordan Howlett, popularly known as "@jordan_the_stallion8," captivates millions with candid monologues, reactions, stories, life hacks, and intriguing fast food secrets. His journey is marked by remarkable resilience, triumphing over homelessness, depression, and COVID-related setbacks. With an impressive following of over 20 million, Jordan is a firm believer in the transformative power of self-belief. He aspires to inspire others, encouraging them to overcome challenges and embrace their own resilience. Through his engaging content, Jordan showcases his authentic personality and shares valuable insights gained from his own experiences. Whether he's sharing relatable stories or providing practical tips, Jordan's presence resonates with viewers worldwide. As a source of motivation and entertainment, he continues to impact and uplift the digital community, fostering a spirit of empowerment and self-discovery.

Liena Zaidan

PhD Student
Liena Zaidan is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research focuses on field-effect transistor (FET) biosensors, with a mission to revolutionize early disease detection. Liena's journey has been profoundly influenced by her experience working on renewable energy projects in rural areas of developing countries in Africa. It was here that she witnessed firsthand the pressing need for rapid, reliable biosensors that could be a lifeline for communities lacking access to adequate healthcare. Her vision is to create miniaturized handheld and wearable point-of-care devices that are not only cutting-edge but also affordable and accessible to everyone. Her journey is a beacon of hope, lighting the path toward a future where healthcare is not a luxury but a fundamental human right.

Robert Clapperton

Co-Founder at Ametros Learning and Associate Professor at Ryerson University
Robert Clapperton is an Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communications at Ryerson University. Robert earned his PhD in English Language and Literature with a Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Science at the University of Waterloo. He specializes in computational linguistics with an emphasis on the critical application of natural language processing in education. Robert’s teaching focuses on the digital enterprise and communication research methods. Robert is a co-founder and inventor of Ametros Learning, a natural language understanding experiential learning platform focused on the teaching and practicing communication, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. The platform is currently used by universities, corporations, and professional associations across North America.

Organizing team


  • Abby Zinman
  • Angel Lin
  • Caitlin Kwan
  • Catherine Hoang
  • Enoch Tin
  • Heidi Zhu
  • Helen Wang
    Team member
  • Helena Lee
  • Hoor Ulain Umar
  • Jennifer Man
  • Kate Bendall
  • Krysten Tran
  • Manavjit Singh Dhindsa
  • Milind Kumar
  • Pranav Bedi
  • Sandy Rbahia
  • Smiksha Sharma