Conversations with Two Summit Scholarship Recipients

OSHWA gave financial assistance to several women to attend the 2014 Open Hardware Summit in Rome, Italy. Below are conversations with two of these scholarship recipients, one from Pune, India, and the other from Colorado, USA. Both women have wonderful thoughts to share, plus Toni Klopfenstein is seeking a seat on the OSHWA Board in the upcoming election. Please read on to hear their stories.

Sphoorti Headshot

What is your name?
Sphoorti Joglekar

What is your age?
21

Where do you live?
Pune, India

Where are you from originally?
Pune, India

What is your title at your job?
Member of Technical Staff, Airtight Networks (Pune, India)

What do you do specifically for work?
I work on kernel and driver level features for the company’s product.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was introduced to the open hardware community while working on my thesis project, and robotics and embedded applications have always been my interest. Before attending the Summit, I hoped for an opportunity to meet and learn from people contributing and making a huge difference in the open source hardware world. And the Summit provided me with that, and more!

What does open source hardware mean to you?
I am a beginner, and I am learning a lot about open source hardware and looking for mentors to guide me in my journey.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
Being a beginner to the open hardware community, I find the absence of hackerspaces and FAB Labs a challenge.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
I feel more and more women should get involved in open hardware community.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
I gained a lot out of the Summit. I met fellow scholarship recipients, and also Alicia, Addie, Aileen, Becky and Phoenix who are really great at what they do. I came to know about the various open hardware projects people are working on worldwide through the talks session on Day 1 of the Summit. The second day was more about community participation and building a strong community through the workshops that were conducted.

Most importantly, I gained confidence to interact with really talented people on this huge platform and I am so thankful to OSHWA for encouraging me to attend and interact with all these people.

————————————————————————————————-

Toni's Headshot

What is your name?
Toni Klopfenstein

What is your age?
26

Where do you live?
Boulder, CO

Where are you from?
Monument, CO

What is your title at your job?
Quality Assurance Engineer, Sparkfun Electronics (Boulder, CO)

What do you do specifically for work?
I manage all Github repositories, work on circuit boards where the original engineer no longer works at SFE, organize the Hackers in Residence that come to work with our engineering team, assist with board revisions when necessary, and act as a liaison between engineering and tech support.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was interested in getting to listen to and share ideas with other folks in this arena, and to strengthen our community. My hope was to leave the Summit with new people to collaborate with, and determine where we need to improve.

At last year’s Summit someone discussed open hardware farm tools, which was fascinating and really opened my eyes to the diversity of open hardware, and the fact that it is not just about circuit boards. I’m eager to see what this year has in store, and to learn more about other exciting projects. Even though it’s different from my own work, it’s important to take into consideration these other ideas to allow me to make better working decisions myself.

I hope to represent SFE well at The Summit. I want to truly listen to other ideas out there, and be sure that as leaders in this movement, we are staying true to the community and working with them, not accidentally against them. Communication, listening, and gathering is key.

What does open source hardware mean to you?
Open source hardware means there are no secrets or black boxes filled with things that you cannot see into. It is accessible so you can learn about something, and then go find its data sheets somewhere to learn even more. It’s not a product that is full of secrets and made specifically for one specific company. There are far fewer trade secrets, and much more accessibility.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
How do you translate open hardware information to people? How do you share this kind of documentation with people and ensure that it is accessible? The common consumer can use open source software quite easily, but there are larger challenges with hardware.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
This scholarship was created to ensure that women, and their voices, have a place at the table. The Summit is a brainchild of two women, which is important because this is still a very male-dominated industry.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
The 2014 Summit was very valuable for me. During the first day, I got to learn about many new open-source projects that I was not aware of yet. One that really stood out to me was the Open Seed Initiative, which again, was great to learn about as it reminded me that “open hardware” doesn’t necessarily just mean electronics, but instead can include a wide range of materials and supplies, including agricultural items.

The talks on the first day overall were also really inspiring, especially getting to see so many new faces (at least to me!) in the open hardware field.

The workshops on the second day were also great. Not only did I get to learn some interesting insights about running an open hardware business from Eric Pan of Seeed Studio, but I got to work with folks from companies that I am familiar with from a business standpoint, but not from a personal standpoint. Because of this, for me personally, it helped create a more personal connection for me to other companies in the open source field that I would not necessarily have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. In my opinion, events like that help enforce the community aspect of open hardware, which is important and is something that could still be improved greatly.