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Idea Festival Bluegrass, highlighted by the keynote addresses of Jad Abumrad of NPR’s Radio Lab and author Rich DeMillo, noted for his work on the transformation in higher education, is coming to the EKU Center for the Arts April 21-22. The two-day festival is presented by the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium and Bluegrass Tomorrow.

IF Youth Day is scheduled for Thursday, April 21, and the public IF Bluegrass event will be held on Friday, April 22.  IF Youth Day is free to middle and high school students of the region and will feature a unique IF Career Maker Faire, featuring hands-on exhibits and demonstrations from colleges, universities, businesses and industries. It will also focus on college and career choices and the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. Student and young professional speakers will focus on the most popular career pathways available in the Bluegrass, according to Individual Learning Plan (ILP) information.

Tickets are now on sale for the Abumrad and Demillo keynotes at IF Bluegrass Public Day: a full-day ticket is $85; individual tickets, at varying prices, can be purchased for the Abumrad presentation only.  Tickets are available at or 859-622-7469.  Schools and students should also register with the EKU Center for the free IF Student event, as space is limited.

Other featured speakers at IF Bluegrass on Friday include Dr. Roman Yampolskiy, director of the Cybersecurity Laboratory at the University of Louisville, “Future with Artificial Superintelligence;” Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer at Alltech, on the future of agriculture and agri-science; and nationally renowned chef; local foods expert Ouita Michel, owner of Holly Hill Inn, Smithtown Seafood and other central Kentucky restaurants; and Kris Kimel, president and founder of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and Space Tango and the original founder of Idea Festival, who will present “Next Gen: Space.”  Other presenters and performers as well as a final agenda will be announced soon.

Abumrad, host of WNYC’s Radiolab, knows something about creative struggle. He will discuss what he calls “Gut Churn,” the title of his presentation and the radical uncertainty that he feels exists at the very core of creative process. Using examples from Radiolab’s own evolution, he will share the benefits of negative feedback and how individuals can look out for “pointing arrows” to help guide their work, even when it hurts.  “Gut Churn" addresses what does it mean to “innovate,” and is the result of a three-year investigation into science, philosophy and art. 

Abumrad’s "Radiolab" is a show about curiosity, where sound illuminates ideas and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy and human experience.  The program is heard nationwide on more than 500 radio stations. An Oberlin College graduate, Abumrad has also written music for films and reported and produced documentaries for a variety of local and national public radio programs, including On the Media, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, Morning Edition, All Things Considered and WNYC’s 24 Hours at the Edge of Ground Zero.

DeMillo, executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of over 100 articles, books and patents, will present an impassioned account and behind-the-scenes story of pioneering efforts for transforming higher education, through technology and fueled innovation, introducing new ways to disseminate knowledge and better ways to learn — all at lower cost.  Building on his earlier book, "Abelard to Apple,"  DeMillo argues that the current system of higher education is clearly unsustainable. Hewlett-Packard’s first chief technology officer, DeMillo is the 2013 Lumina Foundation Inaugural Fellow and a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Yampolskiy is the founding and current director of the Cyber Security Lab at the University of Louisville and an author of many books, including "Artificial Superintelligence: A Futuristic Approach." Connolly is responsible for the commercialization of Alltech’s global research and corporate account strategy. Michel, who “loves cooking straight from the garden,” is also the chef in residence at the Woodford Reserve Distillery and owner/chef at Wallace Station Deli, Windy Corner Market, The Midway School Bakery and Glenn’s Creek Café’ and Catering. Kimel’s two subsidiary companies, Kentucky Space and Space Tango LLC, both focus on the design and development of small high-value satellites and applications and novel space platforms and experiments for the International Space Station (ISS).

The event is planned and facilitated by the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium, which advances the Bluegrass Region academically and economically and is comprised of the 12 colleges and universities in the region: Asbury University, Berea College, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgetown College, Midway University, Morehead State University, Kentucky State University, Sullivan University, Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky.