What it’s essential to know concerning the CEO and chief engineer of Adafruit Industries

A two-inch-wide, jeweled LED disc sits on the desktop to the fitting. Colours dance, looping in rhythmic circles. A metallic inexperienced circuit board glints underneath the fluorescent lights of a south Manhattan manufacturing facility. On the reverse aspect of the disc, stamped in stark white, is the Adafruit brand.

1000’s of makers and inventors, from learners to superior, have used Adafruit electronics and kits to interact with know-how in new and other ways.

On the heart of all of it stands a passionate entrepreneur from Boston, defining a brand new class of engineer and reinventing the best way digital {hardware} is created.

And he or she’s doing it within the open.

The making of the maker

Limor Fried, also referred to as Ladyada, is the CEO and chief engineer of New York Metropolis-based Adafruit Industries. An open supply {hardware} firm with greater than 100 workers, Adafruit shares its open ideas, programming code, schematics, and extra with the group at massive.

As a baby, Limor was curious—an explorer, a tinkerer, a maker. She’d pull issues aside, peering on the inner construction or code, after which attempt to recreate it.

This curiosity led her to check open supply software program, finally main her to the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how (MIT). There, via the MIT Media Lab, Limor realized about making use of open supply ideas to {hardware} design.

That information would rework her life and impression the lives of numerous others.

From distraction to considerate design

Together with her thesis looming, in 2005, Limor started constructing kits and small digital {hardware} as a distraction. She assembled radios, cellphone jammers, MP3 gamers in mint tins, and extra. True to open supply kind, she’d share her hand-sketched schematics, engineering notes, and fabrication progress on-line. Questions and requests for components started pouring in from individuals around the globe. They needed to construct related tasks and kits.

Balancing the calls for of college and requests for components, Limor compiled mission kits after class on the kitchen desk in her dormitory. It was the standard starting of Adafruit and her open supply {hardware} motion.

This homegrown motion has grown exponentially. Adafruit now occupies a 50,000+ sq. foot warehouse in SoHo, New York Metropolis, averages greater than $50 million in income yearly, and continues to attract new followers and makers.

Limor serves as a mentor and is on the advisory board of IEEE Spectrum journal. She has been acknowledged with quite a few accolades, together with being named a White Home Champion of Change in 2016 and making Forbes journal’s listing of “America’s High 50 Ladies in Tech” in 2018. She’s greater than an engineer. She’s an educator for the open supply motion. And for her contributions, voters chosen Limor because the 2019 Ladies in Open Supply Group Award winner.

Engineering redefined

From the 5-year-old coding his personal LED magic wand and the Woman Scout constructing her first robotic to the researcher monitoring automobile emissions and the scientist growing microsatellites and area rovers, all are engineers, says Limor.

And due to Limor and her workforce, individuals of all ages and skills can study to construct {hardware} and share their innovations. For instance, Limor developed a toolkit referred to as the Circuit Playground Categorical, which introduces customers to the method of constructing {hardware} in a enjoyable, partaking means. Crammed with elements starting from jeweled LEDs to microphones and audio system to a USB interface, the gadget is a stepping stone to creating extra superior tasks and {hardware}.

The Adafruit workforce has additionally been on the forefront of assistive know-how, serving to to revive motion and capabilities to these challenged by mobility restrictions. Simply modifiable and hackable, Adafruit know-how might be fully custom-made to boost sensor ranges and different controllers, guaranteeing the know-how continues to supply assist as customers’ wants change.

In any case, that is what open supply is all about: constructing group, fostering collaboration, and driving innovation.

“Something you need has know-how in it. So no matter your private favourite passion or pursuits—whether or not it is veterinary science, otherwise you need to be a most cancers researcher, otherwise you need to construct skateboards for a residing—all these items, you might be an engineer and construct these issues and mix these.”

Limor often mentors and advocates for others within the open supply motion, girls enterprise homeowners, and the New York Metropolis space. Her involvement within the NYC Industrial Manufacturing Council has drawn firms to town, and Adafruit is rated No. 1 in New York Metropolis for manufacturing on the Inc. listing of the “5,000 Quickest Rising Corporations.”

She is the host of the YouTube collection “Ask an Engineer,” the longest-running reside weekly web present on science, know-how, engineering, and math (STEM), and the webcast “Present and Inform,” which showcases innovations makers are creating—not simply in laboratories but additionally in kitchens and residing rooms across the globe.

These tales encourage viewers in addition to Limor, who notes, “While you give individuals open supply, what they do with it, you’ll be able to’t even think about. It is past comprehension. Solely people might be so imaginative to take the code and design such a variety of applied sciences.”

Opening pathways for the longer term

In each means that she contributes—as an engineer, a group builder, a mentor, and an advocate—Limor attracts upon the ability of open supply and know-how to beat boundaries and open up countless prospects for know-how, society, and the subsequent era of engineers.

Congratulations to Limor Fried, recipient of the 2019 Ladies in Open Supply Group Award.


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