Cassie Moreira already had a strong interest in robotics while in high school. But she says she didn’t realize a career was a possibility and thought instead that it would remain simply a hobby.
But when she graduated, she decided to apply for a position at robot-builder Boston Dynamics, even though she considered it “a long shot.” They took her on.
Answering a range of questions from curious youngsters, Moreira says in a five-minute video on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube channel that in high school she tried everything including horticulture, graphic design, and computer repair, and ended up fascinated by computer repair, which included a weekly robotics class.
Moreira also reveals what it was that got her interested specifically in robotics, and how long it takes to make a robot.
Turning to Spot, Boston Dynamics’ impressive dog-like robot, someone asks if humans have total control over the talented quadruped. Reassuringly for those fearing the robot uprising, Moreira responds: “Yes, Spot does not have a mind of its own. You have a controller where you can directly command Spot, kind of like an Xbox controller, or you can program it to do an autonomous mission. But all of these things you are setting up and defining for Spot.”
Some fun questions are also asked, like “Can Spot help with my homework?” (sorry, no), and “Can I drive the robot into or over a classmate?” (well, they try to build in obstacle-avoidance smarts, so hopefully no).
Moreira also drops an exciting tidbit about Spot, revealing that while it’s is currently geared toward performing tasks in industrial settings such as warehouses and other company facilities, the Boston Dynamics team would eventually like to adapt the robot for a household environment, too.
The trained electrical engineer also has tips for anyone keen to start building their own robots and reveals what kind of people might be suited for a career in robotics.
Moreira wrote last year how she hopes more women will follow her into the field of robotics and associated subjects, pointing to a study that revealed how women account for only about a quarter of the workforce in science and engineering roles, though in robotics that figure stands at around a fifth.
Hopefully her recent chat with students will inspire more girls, as well as boys, to get involved in technology subjects and become the next generation of roboticists and engineers.
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