Interview with Vrinda Bansal
What is your job?
Founder of Think Fast Robotics and Captain of VRC team 2772J. Summer Intern at USC’s Robotics ACT Lab (part of RASC).
When did you first realize you wanted to do STEM?
I realized that I first wanted to do STEM in the sixth grade. My sixth grade teacher had us do Google’s 20% project where we had to spend 20% of our class time on any year long project. Being an ambitious 6th grader I decided to build a robot based off of my limited knowledge in Scratch. This was the first time I realized how interesting the STEM field is and I discovered how much I loved problem solving, building and designing robots, programming and algorithms.
Who were your role models growing up?
Growing up I didn’t actually have any role models. I always recognized that everyone has their positives and negatives so I never idolized a singular person. However, I was very inspired by the morals of people. One quote that has always stuck with me was “Be the change you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi.
Did you ever want to do anything else?
All the time! Being a high school student, there’s so many different things that intrigue me and I’ve dipped my toe in many different fields like music, art, business, cognitive science, web development & ux/ui design. However, at the end of the day, I think robotics is where my heart lies.
Have you ever had any setbacks?
Of course! I created a female robotics team from scratch which at the time, seemed so much easier than I thought it would be. I did not fully anticipate the negativity we would face from experienced male-domintated teams even having competed in a prestigious team two years prior to my new team. However, as time went on and our team’s bond increased we were able to tune them out and compete at the World Stage.
What’s one thing you’d like to change about the STEM community?
One thing I’d like to change about the STEM community is the bias. There is a very strong picture people paint about a software engineer which needs to evolve as the world is evolving. People of all genders, race and education level can be a strong force in the STEM community and I think we should start normalizing that within ourselves meaning, not getting surprised when we see a female mechanical engineer or a male nurse.
What do you think is most important about communication in STEM community?
I think communication (at least in the IT world) regarding algorithms and machine learning is most important. We all know that technology is developing rapidly. Over the past 5 years there has already been so much change and research in machine learning. Hence, in technology I think communication about new models, algorithms or language developments is very important to keep the field rolling.
What is your favourite science joke?
Q: Why did that tree fall over?
A: Because it had no real roots 😆
What is your most embarrassing moment in your life?
Attending a meeting with my breakfast and forgetting to turn off my camera--oops.
What is your favourite food?
Ice cream! (Specifically Jamoca Almond Fudge from BR)
My email in case anyone wants to reach out for questions or just open chatting! I’m open to advice, questions or just general chatting. My organization website as well in case anyone wants to check that out!
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: Think Fast Robotics