Lisa Winter is flying in from the Bay Area for #rp17 and we’ll be diving straight into the robotics scene with her. Though sporting an Art degree from UC Santa Cruz, Lisa has been building robots for 20 years now, a hobby she started alongside her dad.
Lisa’s interest springs more from the creative, artistic side than from the technical, something which differentiates her from other makers. She currently works as an Engineering Project Manager at the toy manufacturer Mattel, but is probably best known online and on TV (ABC’s BattleBots) as a combat robot builder. In 2012, she founded the smart toy company Robot 11 where she designed prototype robots. If she isn’t off fighting robot wars with her LadyBug robot and crew, she’s on YouTube explaining how to build remote control bots just like hers. Lisa has been busy in her Confusion Vortex workshop in Berkeley, California, working on a new version of her heavyweight Mega Tento.
There are also plans for a smaller version, the Mini Tento, a portable and safe variant of the robot – safe enough to be driven around people. Lisa isn’t just focused on her battle bugs either, she also has the development of prosthetics for animals with disabilities on her to-do list. Fully aware of the potential that science, technology and research carry within them, she has a positive outlook for the future: robots are our friends! A short interview with speaker Lisa Winter.
Lisa, what do you enjoy about robots and BattleBots?
I've always enjoyed robots. I like being hands-on, taking things apart and making them work. BattleBots is an extension of that. You build from the ground up, start with a drawing and end up with your dream as a physical item, then you get to compete with it amongst all of your friends. It's quite satisfying as a creator.
What makes you love out loud?
I'm very lucky that the projects I create are seen by millions of people. What I enjoy most is presenting something that I'm passionate about and have it inspire other young women. The feedback I receive from families and young girls inspires me to continue.
How did BattleBots as a sport develop in the last years?
BattleBots has evolved from a small underground hobby to an international sport that is now watched by millions. I started by building small lightweight robots when I was 10 years old. Now there’s only one heavyweight class and it has become a serious sport, broadcast on a major TV network.
Image credit: © Lisa Winter