2018

Tom Lauwers

Entrepreneur and Roboticist

Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA)

From May 7 to May 13, 2018

Biography —

Tom is the founder and chief roboticist of BirdBrain Technologies, located in Pittsburgh, PA. He seeks to design educational tools that catalyze positive making, coding, and engineering learning experiences in the classroom.

Tom received a Ph.D in robotics in 2010 from Carnegie Mellon in part for his work designing the Finch robot and Hummingbird robotics kit. The Finch is a small robot designed to inspire and delight students learning computer science by providing a tangible representation of their code. The Hummingbird is a kit that allows students to create and program robots built from electronic components and craft materials.   

Tom resides in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood with his wife, two kids, cat, and a small army of robots. He would be an invaluable ally in the event of a robot uprising.

Project —

Project shared with Bernat Romagosa, Jens Mönig, and John Maloney

MicroBlocks is a new programming language inspired by Scratch that can run right inside microcontroller boards such as the micro:bit, the NodeMCU and many Arduino boards.

The MicroBlocks system allows for dynamic, parallel and interactive programming, just like in Scratch, but with the twist of having your projects run autonomously inside the board without being tethered to a computer, thus offering the flexibility and liveness of tethered blocks programming without giving up the real-world applications of low level microcontroller programming.

With MicroBlocks, you can build your own digital instruments, interactive jewelry, electronic games and measuring devices, all by using blocks.