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Young Women in STEM Grant Recipient

Robot Maker | Multi-Media Creator | Builder | Innovator

My name is Allie Weber and I am a 15-year-old maker, builder, and inventor from South Dakota. I make inventions that solve real-world problems, and also do other fun projects and DIYs. 

2021 Young Women in STEM grant recipient, Allie Weber

What inspired you to get into STEAM?

I have been immersed in STEAM for my whole life. My mom entertained me when I was younger with craft projects, and my dad is an Engineer, so I always took an interest in making things. I built my first robot for the science fair when I was in first grade, and never stopped making since!

What are some advantages you think being a female brings to the STEAM field?

In the STEM field, as with any field, it is invaluable to have many different kinds of people working on a project. People don’t all have the same needs, so when designing and inventing new products to solve problems, it is important to have many people be able to contribute to make sure the product works for everyone. There are many things today that are not designed to be as accessible or as representative of their consumers as they should be. I feel this is due to a lack of diversity in the field. We need to have different voices represented to create products in order to create a farther accessible and diverse solution to problems. This is why having women in STEM is so important to me. 

What would you tell young girls who are interested in STEAM, but too intimidated or discouraged to pursue it?

You don’t have to be perfect to start creating anything, and you don’t have to know a lot about any certain topic either. Everyone starts somewhere, and you can learn as you go. Every project I work on has a bit of a learning curve when it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work out the first time. Most of the time, people only see finished products in stores and they don’t consider the number of setbacks that had to be overcome to get them there. Everyone has struggles in their projects and that’s okay. The engineering process is often messy, and overcoming obstacles is part of the experience! 

How important is it for you to inspire other young creators/scientists, for example, through your YouTube Channel or other platforms?

I am very grateful that I can be an inspiration to others who are interested in STEAM, and am excited to continue to encourage makers of all ages, no matter their experience level. By reaching people through my YouTube channel Tech-nic-Allie Speaking, as well as through the popular TV show Mythbusters Jr., I hope to show people that kids are not the future, we are here now, and we are not going to change the world someday, because we already are. 

Has the COVID pandemic reframed the way you think about STEAM and how it can be applicable on a global scale?

I am continually amazed by the resourcefulness of the maker community, which was especially evident when the Pandemic first started. When people were stuck at home, they sometimes didn’t have access to materials they needed for projects since they couldn’t go to the store, or they were just plain bored being stuck inside. However, we have seen fantastic projects come from quarantine, with hundreds if not thousands of people teaming up to make masks, face shields, and other innovations to help battle COVID-19. When people couldn’t get to the store, they utilized common household items to make with. When people were bored with being inside, I and many other makers helped out by producing short project tutorials on social media that use household objects to get people thinking creatively, called the #stayinplayin. One of my favorite things about the #stayinplayin that I and many other maker kids have helped with was that we could see how creative people got with household objects. Overall, the amount of creativity and collaboration we have witnessed in the midst of a global pandemic has been fantastic, and I hope it continues long after we see the end of COVID-19. 

Who’s your favorite female icon and why?

I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people in my life, and find myself constantly inspired by pretty much everyone no matter how much recognition they have. I am constantly inspired by the people that I meet, and I continue to be inspired every day, because everyone has something remarkable about them even if it doesn’t seem as obvious at first as it might be with people who are more well-known. But the truth is, there are so many amazing women in the world that I look up to, it would be impossible to pick just one. 

What do you think is most exciting about the future of robotics, and is there a specific advancement you’d like to see happen?

I find self-navigation extremely fascinating. I myself have a terrible sense of direction and get lost pretty much anywhere so GPS is something that I appreciate a lot. I am looking forward to the days where cars will be self-navigating so I won’t have to worry about taking wrong turns as much. I am also very fascinated by the automation of such things as vacuum cleaners, and lawn mowers. I think they are fantastic. I am interested to see what new ideas this type of technology will lead to in the future. 

2021 Young Women in STEM grant recipient, Allie Weber