Women Who Reign: Naomi Fitter

“I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say ‘yes, women can.'” – Dilma Rousseff

Happy Wednesday Reigners! Meet Naomi Fitter, getting her PhD in Robotics. Read on to see what she does when not working on her doctorate, all the women who inspire her, and her advice on seizing opportunities! Also, watch this video demonstrating and motivating her research!

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m part Spanish major, part robotics PhD student. Robotics in the health and education spaces fascinates me, but the humanities person in me (my undergraduate majors were in Mechanical Engineering and Spanish) also pulls me toward robot ethics and cultural robotics. I love doing research, but when I’m not in lab, I also enjoy playing music and organizing student events. To date, I’ve played in over 20 different musical ensembles, from drum corps to jazz combos and everything in between.

On top of a pyramid in the Yucatan

What # would define your life journey?
Aaah, hmm, I’m a hashtag novice. #naomistandsup, maybe? Or #educationforall?

Favorite website / app:
I’m about equally dependent on the Starbucks app and; with so much work and so little time, I need caffeine almost as much as an automatic way to budget coffee expenditures.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Many women computer science and robotics inspire me – Rosalind Picard, Heather Knight, Leila Takayama, Wendy Ju, my advisor Katherine Kuchenbecker. All of them have helped to shape my work and research strategies in some way.

Following my basal instinct that all situations, even conferences, need more cowbell

Song that makes you want to dance:
Cascada’s Every Time We Touch inevitably causes me to both fist pump and dance interpretively.

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I almost no knowledge of computers or programming until college, so I spent some of my early college years feeling behind and intimidated. Instead of giving up, I worked hard to catch up and since have learned that it’s best to learn at my own pace and rely more on internal than external validation.

Losing valiantly in lightsaber battle on May the Fourth

Ideal Job:
Somewhere where I get to shape interesting research, work with passionate and energetic people, and have the option of work-life balance.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Don’t expect to know your entire life plan outright, but do continue seizing interesting opportunities as they come. That’s been my secret to success so far!

Air guitar soloing on a mountain in Israel

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