Failure is knowledge, says Tim Gibson categorically.

The 29 year old Griffith University Business graduate – now a Melbourne-based property manager – should know. After five failed attempts to realise his dream of becoming a pilot with the RAAF, Tim is headed for space as the only Australian in a 23-strong contingent to lift off in a mission with the Space Expedition Corporation mid next year.

How did Tim get to this point? How did he overcome his previous shattered dreams? And how is he coping with the vigorous training regime that will launch him in the SXC Lynx Mark 2 rocket-powered spaceplane into a place where few have gone before?

These and other questions are set to be answered at the upcoming TEDxGriffithUniversity, an exciting event to be held on Wednesday 18 February at Griffith’s Gold Coast Campus. TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

“My story is a bit like Slumdog Millionaire,” says Tim. “There were a lot of ‘failures’ in my life that led up to my selection for the space program. I didn’t realise at the time of all my RAAF rejections, but the events and social experiences during that time enabled me to learn a great deal that would hold me in good stead for what was to come.”

And learn he did. From pressure differentials at high altitude to how to withstand high gravitational load, Tim threw himself into researching the finer details of aviation. This, alongside a very determined (but ultimately unsuccessful) bid to prove to the RAAF that his long sightedness could be surgically fixed to allow him to join the ranks. “Of course, I never realised that my failure to enter the RAAF would be overtaken by space travel, but here I am. You may not always get what you want but you also never know what may come of your dreams if you keep pushing. You just have to accept that there will be failures on the way.”

Exciting speakers

Tim will be joined by a host of other exciting speakers at TEDxGriffithUniversity, including industrial sociologist Dr Mary Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at the University of California, San Diego. Dr Walshok has been closely involved in the re-invention of cities such as San Diego, a beachside city of over 1.3m people. Dr Walshok has some interesting insights into how San Diego has repositioned itself as a coastal city of culture, and is able to draw some parallels with Australia’s Gold Coast.

Meanwhile the event will also hear from (among others) Australian professional cyclist and Olympic gold medallist Sara Carrigan, award winning country music star Jared Porter, world-leading organic chemist and Nobel Prize contender San Thang, dementia research specialist Professor Wendy Moyle and leading scientist Professor Mark von Itzstein, from Griffith University.

“This is Griffith’s first foray into the world of Ted and we have a truly wonderful collection of interesting people from Griffith, the Gold Coast and internationally,” says Professor Ned Pankhurst, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Gold Coast Campus. “This is a very proud partnership to be involved in and for those who cannot make it, we have excellent live streaming to take advantage of. “The theme of TEDxGriffithUniversity – this great showcase of knowledge – is ‘knowledge is…’ and it really is up to each one of us to finish that sentence and position the Gold Coast as a true university city.”

For information on live streaming at each of our campuses, Nathan, Mt Gravatt, South Bank and Logan, please visit

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