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10 inspiring women engineers, scientists

11 Mar 2014  | Suzanne Deffree

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Heather Knight aka Marilyn Monrobot

Heather Knight, better known as Marilyn Monrobot, grabbed national attention in 2011 when she landed on the Forbes list of 30 under 30 in science.

The social roboticist has a MS in electric engineering and computer science from MIT and is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute while running Marilyn Monrobot Labs in New York, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art.

Heather's work also includes: robotics and instrumentation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interactive installations with Syyn Labs, field applications and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics, and she is an alumnus of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Beyond the Forbes list, Heather gained some fame as a key designer behind the below OK Go video's Rube Goldberg Machine through her work at Syyn.

She's also spoken at TED conferences. Watch her 2010 talk on robotics and entertainment, two areas that she believes combined will attract more people to STEM.

Debbie Sterling

When Debbie Sterling was at Stanford earning her degree in mechanical engineering, she was disturbed by how few women there were in the program, so she set out to do something about that.

Debbie knows she's a rarity with estimates claiming less than 15 percent of the world's engineers are women. But considering that engineers make the biggest advances in our society and that women make up about half the world's population, she believes the world deserves to have the female perspective when it comes to these advances.

She sank her savings into starting GoldieBlox, a toy company aiming to "help girls build the future" by "disrupting the pink aisle" and introducing girls to the joy of engineering at a young age.

Sterling's startup has been a notable success. Stocked by companies like Toys R Us and, GoldieBlox is growing in popularity. So secure is the company that it became the first startup ever to run a Super Bowl ad in 2014.

Super Awesome Sylvia

Sylvia Todd

At 12 years old, she's smarter and more creative than most adults you'll meet on the street. Sylvia Todd, aka Super Awesome Sylvia, shares her love of DIY engineering through the Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show.

She started the show when she was eight, just before going to her third Maker Faire. Within a few months of that event (where she handed out homemade business cards she had drawn herself), the tween maker queen was doing shows for Make Magazine online. Soon she was being asked to speak at TEDx Redmond and TEDx San Jose, and to teach at CMK and STEAM Day.

She openly discusses her failures, something many adults don't have the courage to do, let alone a kid, but keeps going down her STEM path, sharing knowledge along the way. One of her quotes: "I want more people to become less focused on success, and more on just trying new things outside their comfort zone."

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