TEDx Mile High: a few of my favorite speakers

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend TEDx Mile High to hear some really incredible new ideas and innovations that are happening in Colorado and around the world. I was periodically taking notes on my phone, so here are a few short recaps of a few of my favorite speakers:

Phil Mitchell: Director, DispatchHealth

Phil Mitchell wants to revamp our ER system by bringing back the house call using highly trained nurses. Why? Because the incredible expense of emergency room visits is compounded by its inefficiency. 37% of ER visits in the US were unnecessary and less than 1% required an extended stay as of 2016. 46% of patients however reported that they had no other place to go. Oh, and if you call an ambulance, the minimum cost you will pay is $3200, which isn’t too good of a number. What Mitchell is doing is sending highly trained nurses to people’s homes to do things like stitch wounds, administer drugs & IVs, or perform tests for patients. This saves both the hospital and the patient money while also minimizing the negative impact on the patient by keeping them at home.

Blake Scholl: Founder & CEO of Boom Supersonic

Imagine being able to go anywhere on earth in four hours or less for $100 or less. This is the vision of Boom Supersonic founder Blake Scholl. This pursuit began with his dissatisfaction with his children’s inability to see their grandfather who lived across the Pacific Ocean. Upon researching supersonic travel he made the observation that nobody was attempting to build faster commercial aircraft, and no real progression had been made towards this challenge since the cold war. Supersonic air travel is one of the only instances in technology where humanity saw an opportunity to innovate and then actually stepped backwards. The time is right for this to happen though. Scholl explained that the Concorde was not an economic option because it was built in the pursuit of glory during the cold war, rather than for market viability. Since then, new materials like carbon fiber composites, advances in ways to build a jet engine and advanced aerodynamics make supersonic much easier and economically viable. Boom’s first Supersonic aircraft is set to be 75% cheaper to operate than Concorde with roughly the same emissions as current aircraft.

Boom Supersonic founder Blake Scholl shows off a render of their supersonic passenger jet

Alexander McCoy: Military Activist

Alexander McCoy was a sergeant in the US Marine Corps and served in the Middle East and Central America. The opening facts from the talk were startling: the Marines have the least women of any branch, yet by far the most sexual assaults. Despite the severity of this problem, it has largely been brushed off and attributed to “a few bad eggs.” The problem however is obvious in that the Marines are the only branch who segregate soldiers by male and female platoons immediately as they arrive. This leads male platoons to not form the same bond that teamwork and the shared struggles of training form, isolating female marines and building disrespect for them. McCoy argues that in order to operate as a fully effective fighting force, diversity and respect need to be al element of the corps.

Brandon Matthews: Criminal Justice Activist

There isn’t really much debate as to whether the prison system in the United States is broken or not with the recidivism rate for US prisons being almost 68%. The problem, Matthews argues is that punishment is the foundation of our system while rehabilitation is an afterthought. Some prisoners are not even sent to prisons that have the types of programs they need based on their conviction. What Matthews calls for is a total divorce of punishment and rehabilitation, locking away dangerous repeat offenders and unstable individuals similar to current prisons, while sending the less serious offenders for things like theft, drug possession and property crimes to rehabilitation facilities.

Lauren Aldridge and Caitlin Quattromani

Two best friends, Lauren Aldridge and Caitlin Quattromani, found themselves at the far opposites of the political spectrum during the 2012 election. While this puts stress on many relationships, they avoided heated arguments and snap judgments by using dialogue opposed to argument. The two point out that politics are not worth losing friendships over and, while opposing arguments may sound stupid to you initially, people need to remember that A) rarely are the people holding said beliefs are actually stupid and B) these are people that also just want what is best for the country.

Philip Fernbach: Cognitive Scientist and professor at Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder

Philip Fernbach started off his talk with a recap of the time rapper B.o.B took to twitter to express his belief that the earth is flat, only to be the target of a storm of tweets from Neil Degrasse Tyson. Sharing the absurdity of flat earthers’ beliefs got a rise out of the audience, which Fernbach explained was the wrong reaction. Why is this wrong? The problem is that we actually know much less about our own beliefs than we think. Humans aren’t designed to know that much, and our brain has capacity for only about 1 gigabyte of information. What our brains are great for is for thinking in groups, which is why it is so easy for beliefs like the earth being flat or global warming being a hoax are able to flourish and so hard to get people to change their views on.

They also featured random short videos between speakers and these were three of the crowd favorites:

Animal Courtships Performed by Humans

A Writer and Three Script Editors Walk into a Bar


I’d also like to thank Project X-ITE from the University of Denver for hooking up it’s summer student entrepreneurs with tickets.

If you enjoyed this article follow me on Medium and Instagram @willalverson for more to come