Four Women in Robotics
Meet four Bay Area women doing wild-edge, creative robotics: Wendy Ju (Stanford), Nan Eastep (Pneubotics/Otherlab), Tessa Lau (Savioke), and Lisa Winter (Battlebots, Mattel). With Maker Faire Program Director Sabrina Merlo.
Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She runs Maker Faire's world-wide Maker Faire Network on locally and independently produced Maker Faires. She also works on content for flagship Maker Faires, co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA, and recently has been involved in founding a new maker association, Women Who Make.
A roboticist since childhood, Lisa has 20 years experience designing and building robots. She was crowned the Robot Wars Middleweight World Champion, a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and has been in such publications as the SF Chronicle, and MAKE magazine. In 2012, Lisa cofounded smart toy company Robot 11, building smart wearables and Bluetooth connected toys. She has been inventing and rapid prototyping connected devices since the beginning of the IoT movement. Lisa is currently the Product Design Engineer at Mattel, developing a smart wearable baby monitor. At night she builds combat robots for ABC’s BattleBots, and dreams of ways to help animals and the environment.
Dr. Wendy Ju is Executive Director for Interaction Design Research at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University, and Associate Professor of Interaction Design in the Design MFA program at California College of the Arts. Her work in the areas of human-robot interaction and automated vehicle interfaces highlights the ways that interactive devices can communicate and engage people without interrupting or intruding. She has innovated numerous methods for early-stage prototyping of automated systems to understand how people will respond to systems before the systems are built. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford, and a Master’s in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT. Her monograph on The Design of Implicit Interactions was published in 2015.
Tessa's passion is building systems that improve people's lives. Her background in machine learning enables her to understand what roboticists are saying, while her expertise in human-computer interaction drives her to understand people's needs and design and build user-focused systems that address those needs. Her goal at Savioke is to guide the development of robots that will revolutionize the service industry. Dr. Lau holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Washington.
Nan Eastep works for Pneubotics at Otherlab, an engineering lab in the Mission in SF. There, Nan develops robots that are pneumatically activated and built out of cloth. Originally, Nan tailored robotic orthotics, devices that are strapped to the body to augment its ability to stand up, walk, run, and lift things. She came to robotics from a career in apparel, having specialized in custom and bespoke tailoring including suits, cycling attire and work wear. Past projects fun to mention are making a tea cozy for a Nike missile (Elizabeth Demaray, 2001), facilitating young stilt-walkers to design and build their own costumes (Prescott, 4/5), and creating bespoke cycling suits with luminescent fibers. Immediately prior to entering the world of robots, Nan owned and operated B. Spoke Tailor, a custom and bespoke tailored cycling attire brand. Her interests outside of work include spending time with her 11 year-old son Salmon, cooking, studying martial arts and yoga, biking, reading and writing.