My time as an open-source hardware trailblazer fellow was one of the most enriching and exciting experiences I’ve had in my academic career. This was because OSHWA and the Sloan Foundation allowed me to take a year to focus on projects that were always important to me. I already did open-source robotics work but was not educated on the formal tenets of open-source hardware or software until I joined this community. I was able to execute my vision to use robotics to bring STEM to more people and bring more people to STEM.
My “Robotics for the Streets: From Outreach to Education to Research” project had a mission to improve diversity in STEM by increasing access, knowledge, and inclusion. I was able to create a novel and innovative method for academics to engage in open-source hardware and software to achieve their professional goals. It allowed me to strategize and educate the community about a topic that is not traditionally pursued because of how it is evaluated. This lack of knowledge would hinder many academics from engaging because they are not aware of how to do this work and still be able to be promoted, tenured, and retained. I could show them that there was a way to use robotics to engage in teaching, research, and service.
This journey allowed me to develop an open-source platform that K-12 teachers, professors, and researchers were able to adapt for their individual needs with respect to teaching, service and research. It allowed me to serve as a champion and spokesperson for open-source hardware to bring in non-traditional, and historically marginalized and minoritized communities to appreciate the potential of this work. I was able to do this through social media posts, emails, listserves, YouTube videos, and projects on GitHub, HacksterIO and Instructables. I also gave presentations and wrote papers to educate the community at large about open-source hardware in order to increase visibility and broader impacts on the usefulness of this community. I was also able to give six undergraduate students experiences in research and open-source hardware that they would not have been able to have otherwise. They are now more versed in designing open-source hardware, documenting their designs, writing technical papers and giving technical presentations on this type of work.
Through mentorship and our cohort meetings I was able to learn about documenting the open-source hardware process, getting certified, identifying useful resources for creating my project and how to share it with others in a meaningful and useful way. I have now seen my Flower∞Bots used in engineering design competitions, summer camps, classrooms, research labs, and sold to the community through my NoireSTEMinist® company.
In conclusion, I can never thank OSHWA and the Sloan Foundtion enough for this opportunity. I want to ensure them that the work will continue through publications, keynotes, conference, presentations, and enhancements to the Lily∞Bot, Daisy∞Bot, and Flower∞Bot.
Find Dr. Berry’s Work:
Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/@carlottaberry
Social media handles are @DrCABERRY on Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, TikTok