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Women in Tech – Simone Giertz

To inspire millions, it takes a rare combination of ability, timing, and vision. This, the human endeavor, has led to putting a human on the moon. Exploring the very limits of our universe. And, to make this:

As part of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate both the historical innovators who made modern technology possible (We’re looking at you, Betty Holberton), and the women of today who are making a bit of modern history themselves. This week, we’re celebrating the work of none other than the Internet’s very own “Queen of Shitty Robots”, Simone Giertz.

Simone’s path to her being an international technological inspiration may not have followed the most traditional path: As a college dropout, she discovered her love of madcap engineering while interacting with local open-source hardware enthusiasts during her time at Hyper Island. Immersing herself with other creators, she embraced the “Learning by doing” mentality by jumping straight in with almost no prior robotics knowledge. Using her enthusiasm with a liberal amount of Googling, she taught herself from the ground-up how to build and program her first robots. In fact, while attempting to launch a children’s TV show in Sweden, she developed her Toothbrush Machine: a helmet that, at best, assaulted one’s face with a plastic toothbrush. While unfortunately the show was never picked up, her career as an innovator in horrible machines took off after she uploaded her creation to YouTube for all to see:

Simone combines a natural inquisitiveness, deadpan delivery, and desire to embrace the ridiculous was just what the internet needed. Rapidly what started off as her sharing the results of her tinkering with technology ended up with her headlining Reddit’s /r/all (often from posts in the aptly-named shittyrobots subreddit), being featured on shows like The Ellen Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and even one of the most enjoyable TED Talks in years.

Seriously, take a 12 minute pause break and watch her TED talk “Why You Should Make Useless Things” right now:

Not content to just make videos about machines that possibly only make your morning worse, she also documents her process for all of us to learn from, which are equal parts inspiring and amusing. This unique approach to curiosity and building whatever comes from it has led to joy, awkward laughter, and a newfound appreciation of tech among millions of fans across the internet.

Of course, beyond machines that assault with soup, she’s also launched a successfully backed Kickstarter to build The Everyday Calendar: A handsome device that helps everyone build good habits and get the grown up version of the Gold Star every day they achieve their personal, reasonable goal.

Simone’s path followed what we believe in most: The best way to develop new life skills is to jump in, learn with your peers, and to practically apply your learning throughout your self-driven education. And, most important of all, to never stop creating.

Recently, Simone announced that Brian, her brain tumor which she had previously sent on a vacation to Antarctica, has started to grow again. To this, we here at Holberton would like to say we’re rooting for you to successfully evict Brian for good, and that your videos, your enthusiasm for tech, and the very not-OSHA compliant robots that you bring into this world delight everyone here; student and staff alike.