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Education / Engineering / Robotics / Women in tech

Penn undergrad Anna Brill took a year off to work on some v chill robots

The 22-year-old researcher became a robot technician for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Boss.

This RHex robot and its googly eyes was programmed by Brill. (GIF via

Your average undergrad student may take a year off to live abroad, try their hand at a startup or muse over existentialism in a cross-country drive.

But Penn undergraduate researcher Anna Brill beat all those clichéd plans hands down: she spent her year off working on some pretty cool-lookin’ robots.

Brill, a 22-year-old researcher at Penn’s Kod*lab, took a leave of absence to become a robot technician at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, home of the Robot Revolution exhibit.

The passion for robots in Brill was born in sixth grade, where she got her first experience with LEGO robots. Later in high school, she was part of a FIRST Robotics team (like these.) And thus, a robothead was born.

Once at Penn, she landed at Kod*lab (a spinoff of Penn’s GRASP lab, the birthplace of buzzy Philly startup COSY.) But her first task posed a bit of challenge: instead of focusing on building the actual robots, Brill tackled the programming aspect of a RHex robot.

“It was probably one of the hardest things I did that year because it was such a different way to think of how a robot moves,” Brill said.

For Brill, the field of robotics is “an obvious choice when you’re thinking about creating something from an idea to a product.”

But don’t take our word for it. Here she is explaining her path through robotics and what’s next for her at Pennovation, where she’ll be continuing her path to an undergraduate and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Companies: Pennovation Center / University of Pennsylvania

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