Ayah Bdeir on design, engineering and activism

By Danielle Newnham

Today’s guest is Ayah Bdeir, a Lebanese engineer, interactive artist, social activist, and founder and inventor of littleBits.  Pioneering in the open source hardware space, littleBits is the easy-to-use electronic building blocks used by millions of kids all over the world and was acquired by Sphero in 2019. (The prototype also holds a place in the permanent collection at MoMA).

Growing up in Beirut, Ayah always had a deep love of design and engineering and focused her career making engineering fun whilst on democratising open source hardware to ensure tech education and innovation became accessible to all, regardless of age, gender or background. Her passion was always to make it accessible and encourage more girls to get excited about engineering. 

She is also co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow, and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab where she did her Masters.

In this conversation, Ayah and I discuss her passion for engineering and making it accessible, her call to activism in Lebanon and even, the significance of someone like Elon Musk owning Twitter and the impact it could have. 

This is a wonderfully wide-ranging conversation which I thoroughly enjoyed and think you will too.

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