Boston Community Scholarship Fall 2017 Winner
SimpliSafe Scholars
Allison Tsay
Allison is a current Harvard student entering her Junior year. She is majoring in Electrical Engineering - an interest that stems from her passion for robots (which we think is pretty cool). In her spare time, Allison keeps active with Martial Arts and Hip Hop. We wish Allison luck as she completes her degree, and can't wait to see her do great things!
What is the first robot you ever worked on?
My first foray into robotics really began in middle school. I decided to join the LEGO league robotics team and subsequently, had the chance to build and program a LEGO Mindstorms robot (essentially a programmable brick with wheels). I remember being inherently fascinated with the logic of programming, how a few simple instructions could bring the robot whirring to life. I also enjoyed the problem solving involved as various bugs and issues arose: Why was the program causing the robot to turn in the wrong direction? How could we create an appendage to prevent the robot from colliding with other competitors on the field?
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Going along with the robotics theme here, my greatest inspiration would be Dr. Cynthia Breazeal. She’s a trailblazer in the robotics industry, particularly social robots and human robot interaction. As a robotics enthusiast, I had never really thought about integrating hard, robotic intelligence with social intelligence, but reading Dr. Breazeal’s biography completely changed the way I saw robots. Her vast array of innovations includes CyberFlora (a robotic flower garden) and JIBO, the world’s first family robot. As an aspiring female engineer, it’s great to see women like Breazeal pioneering new technologies.
What is your biggest goal at Harvard?
This is a really great question! It’s easy to forget that getting into college is just a stepping stone rather than an end goal. I’d have to say my biggest goal at Harvard is to learn as much as I can to be an effective and impactful leader. Whether it’s through my courses in electrical engineering or venturing out to take a class in Renaissance Art History or Global Development in the Caribbean, I hope to be constantly pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and continuously developing skills, both new and old. In the same vein as honing my leadership skills, I have the incredible opportunity to have been elected President of Harvard SEAS Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
Do you have an idea of what you would like to do after Harvard?
After Harvard, my plan is to continue my engineering education by attending grad school. Ultimately, my intent is to enter the robotics or aerospace industry.