Celebrating Women in Robotics
Engineers at Boston Dynamics discuss their inspiration for pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and what you can do to get started in robotics
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. IWD explains this theme as a call for individuals and organizations to seek out and celebrate women’s accomplishments, as well as “to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.”
In the spirit of #ChooseToChallenge, we wanted to highlight the accomplishments of some of the women at Boston Dynamics and create an opportunity for them to share advice and insight for anyone pursuing a career in robotics!
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN ROBOTICS?
“When I was in 6th grade, I joined my school's FIRST LEGO League team. From the first moment I saw the code that I wrote on a computer move a LEGO robot in the real world, I fell in love with robotics.” - Katy Muhlrad, Advanced Software Engineer
“It was kind of an accident. Robots were always cool, but I was always more of a gearhead. I started working for a machine shop and my job was to build the frames for the robots. I started digging into the YouTube videos and learning more on the side and I just got bit by the bug.” - Crystal Kemp, Electrical Technician
“I first got interested in robotics in high school when I joined a FIRST robotics team. I quickly fell in love with building the robot, using my hands to make something, and learning about how things work.” - Justine Roy, Field Applications Engineer
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT WORKING IN A STEM FIELD?
“Creating things- watching something move for the first time that you and your team worked months and months to design and build. It's such a team effort in robotics, so many people involved in a common goal.” - Cassie Moreira, Senior Robotics Technician
“Technology is a huge part of our daily lives. Everything from ball point pens to medicine, TV and microwaves comes from STEM work. Even though I no longer do mechanical engineering on a day-to-day basis, it’s incredibly exciting to market robots that delight and excite people, help us stay safe, and hopefully change the world.” - Natalie Alper, Mechanical Engineer turned Product Marketer
“It's challenging and awe-inspiring. I'm a very competitive person so I really love being able to create something from nothing, that feels like the hardest thing someone can do. It takes a lot of knowledge, self-confidence, and courage to say 'I think we should start here,' knowing it might not be the right answer after the time spent researching and mulling over it. The STEM field encourages introspection and experimentation and without that, we'll never know what the limits of human accomplishments are.” - Sam Shipman, Technical Project Manager
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN OR MINORITIES HOPING TO START A CAREER IN ROBOTICS?
“Don't be afraid to pursue your passion, and don't compare yourselves to others and their milestones. Don't think if you're struggling at something and can't get better that you should give up. A good team has people from all walks of life, all educational backgrounds, all types of thinkers. Also, be nice to each other. We face so much adversity outside of our bubble, we don't need to be tearing ourselves apart from the inside. Lift each other up, no matter how different we all may be.” - Kay Roth, Electrical Engineering Technician
“Don't be afraid to reach out to anyone, but do so thoughtfully. Everyone is more likely to respond to an email that cites their work and asks specific, insightful questions than to one with generic enthusiasm and questions.” - Jenny Barry, Handle Behavioral Lead
“Just start. Learn as much as you can. Do as much as you can. Actively seek out a mentor when you can. And stick-on googly eyes are valuable office currency.” - Rosalind Shinkle, Robotics Engineer