Nerd Girl Nation Watch All Episodes Here
Nerd Girl Nation is a web series that celebrates and inspires young women in STEM by offering authentic, exciting role models that showcase a wide range of career applications. Host Dr. Karen Panetta, Tufts University professor, NASA and IEEE Fellow, is joined by comedian Craig Low to discuss and dissect everything STEM from cyborgs to Snapchat with their Nerd Girls guests
How Engineers Can Actually Help Save Elephants
My next adventure in animal conservation came after I met Dr. Zarin Machanda. Dr. Machanda grew up with an aspiration to become an astronaut veterinarian. As a little girl, she saw space missions using chimpanzees for flight testing and wondered who was taking care of the special needs for chimpanzees that travel to space. I attended one of her talks and was in awe of her ability to stand up in front of a large audience and perform chimpanzee vocalizations, which she did with confidence and tremendous volume. I don’t know of any engineer that has ever had the opportunity to mimic an animal while presenting a technical talk. It certainly kept the audience’s attention.
When Karen Met Craig
It seems like only yesterday that I was boarding a plane for LA to begin filming of Season one of Nerd Girl Nation. I am so used to being on the other end of the interview, where I am answering the questions. Now, I was about to experience being on the other side as the interviewer. I was super excited about finally meeting the amazing women who were going to be our guests on the show and meeting my co-host Craig Low. I was a bit nervous because he was used to being on camera, ready with entertaining questions, nimble on his feet with witty responses and of course, outrageously funny. Meanwhile, I am known to be, well, quite corny and oftentimes clueless about current pop culture. However, when it comes to technology and current world affairs, I am on top of it.
Craig has been in professional broadcasting since he was around 14 years old. He probably didn’t know what to think of me, but I know on set he probably thought my humor was me “trying to be funny”….I am sure he didn’t realize that this was just me, and not me trying to fit into any Hollywood persona, but just the real Karen.
It is well-known by my students that I will resort to any antic, whether it be dancing, singing, throwing objects or telling a story with sound effects to help reinforce the topic I am teaching. I also have next to zero fashion sense for putting an outfit together, and love all things shiny and glittery, whether they match or not.
I am also known as a “shoe ‘ho” for my exotic collection of shoes and boots. I have my R2D2 heels, my Prada Rocket Shoes with Flames, which both Beyoncé and Rihanna own as well, but as an engineer, rocket shoes make perfect sense for me!
Craig appeared on the set looking perfect. Me, on the other hand, I was tired and homesick, since I had never been away from my little boy before. Thank goodness for the magic of make-up artists!
After a few days of filming and exhaustion, I threw on my “hello pony” leggings and a T-shirt for one of our episodes. When Craig saw this, he made an abrupt U-turn to his dressing room change into something more relaxed to match me. I thought that was sweet of him. Later, my husband later saw previews of the show and said, “What on earth are you wearing? I didn’t even know you owned that outfit.”
Craig joked about not graduating from high school and here he was now surrounded by a bunch of Ph.Ds. This is when it hit me that he was experiencing another stereotype I need to break wide open.
Just because people have higher levels of education doesn’t mean they have common sense, compassion or even the common decency to treat everyone around them with respect, regardless of where an individual comes from, or their education level. Of course, all of our Nerd Girl Nation Guests are exceptional human beings, but in general, there are plenty of PHDs out there that are well, jerks. I think Craig couldn’t understand why we wanted him here. I saw Craig as an intelligent articulate guy that was going to help us show the world that women can be beautiful, brilliant, cool and changing the world without being “either or”.
Craig’s comedian friends must’ve had a field day on him for taking a job on a show called “Nerd Girl Nation”. Even Craig had no idea that he would be surrounded by some of the coolest ladies on the planet innovating the latest technologies and impacting lives. I think he was astounded at just how “normal” and well-rounded we are, except for me of course, since some of my wardrobe choices were admittedly unforgivable!
After working with Craig and seeing how he put our guests at ease with his humor, while asking really insightful questions about their work, I thought our Nerd Girl Nation slogan would be “Cool Women, Making Technology Hot.”
After we filmed season one, someone accidentally cited it the other way around to be; “Hot Women, Making Technology Cool.” After all, anyone with a passion to follow their dreams and ready to make their own path is undeniably hot.
If no one says it out loud, it isn’t really happening. #metoo
Beyond Branding: How Laser Cutters are Enhancing and Exciting a Generation of Makers
Whether your creation is a home, downtown development, bridge, or railway, laser cutters offer tremendous advantages for this type of three-dimensional fabrication. Utilizing vector-based graphic design software, such as AutoCAD or Illustrator, engineers can design models to nearly any scale. Models made from laser cut pieces can show depth, contrast, and a more accurate representation of a full-scale project.
Wall art, lamps, and individual statement pieces can all come to life with a laser cutter. Wood, cork, and even plastic are fantastic substrates that allow artists to create stunning installations that are not only functional, but convey their personal style and vision as well.
Laser cutters have long been used to quickly create prototypes for future products and pieces. Robotics clubs and organizations, for example, regularly use this type of equipment to cut parts, components and gears for test robots that, when in their final stage, will be featured in competitions.