Women in Tech Are Moving the Needle at Brooklyn-based Tech Lab
While women are certainly a minority among hardware designers, their leadership and design feats are driving innovation and expanding the talent pool of engineers.
It’s no secret that women tend to be underrepresented in the tech industry and even more so in hardware design. Yet, when it comes to the Newlab, a Brooklyn-based tech lab, you don’t have to look far to find women in leadership positions.
As of 2021, only 11% of electrical engineers are women. Image used courtesy of Zippia
As part of All About Circuits' tour of the Newlab, we had the chance to interview Deren Güler, CEO of Teknikio. In this article, we’ll take a look at the technology of this company with an ambitious female founder at its helm.
Teknikio Makes STEM Available to Both Girls and Boys
Deren Güler is the CEO and founder of Teknikio—a STEM education company focused on engaging children and young girls in particular. The inspiration for Teknikio was born from the glaring inequities in marketing for STEM educational tools.
“You walk through a store and there's a pink aisle and a blue aisle," Güler says. “I thought it was strange that there wasn’t that much STEM in the pink aisle.”
The goal for Güler became clear: create a STEM company that offers children starter kits and resources that aren’t complicated, daunting, or gender-specific. This mission drove Teknikio’s flagship product: the Bluebird.
The Teknikio Bluebird. Image used courtesy of Teknikio
Bluebird is an IoT-focused PCB designed with multiple tools, including a speaker, accelerometer, light sensor, LEDs, and a Nordic Bluetooth chip for wireless connectivity.
Through an intermediary device, like a cellular phone, the PCB can connect to Teknikio’s IoT web platform called Tekniverse—a plug and play platform for designing Internet of Things. The platform provides access to Bluebird’s sensor data and visual-based block programming tools reminiscent of Scratch coding. This intuitive interface allows students to interact with their hardware and respond to real-time sensor data.
In Güler’s words, “Bluebird is kind of like a cross between an Arduino and Microbit. It's designed to be multi-level. You could just use it without connecting any additional components, or you could make it into a wearable, or you could breadboard to add more sensors and create something more complex.”
Güler demonstrates Tekniverse here to create the logical statement: if the temperature on my Bluebird is higher than the temperature outside at the zip code 11205, turn on my LED. In the top right, we see Güler with a Bluebird in hand, showing an illuminated LED accordingly.
Teknikio has differentiated itself from the likes of Arduino, Sparkfun, or Adafruit.
“We're carving out this more niche aspect, where we've made the conscious decision to focus on beginner to intermediate,” Güler says. “We are focused on IoT development. We want to help users who are going through the design process and thinking, ‘Okay, I made this—but, can I use it? How can I change it into something that I would use every day?’”
Celebrating Women in Engineering
Women are disproportionately represented in tech, especially in leadership positions.
“I don't think women in tech, especially in very heavy engineering tech, are celebrated. And I think they should be,” says Simone Rothman, CEO and founder of FutureAir, another Newlab company.
Adding more female engineers to the talent pool would undoubtedly yield more innovation and growth in the field—and that’s part of what makes the work going on at the Newlab so exciting. Ventures like Teknikio are working to change the relationship of women in tech from an early age.
Editor's note: This article is the first part of a news series that covers companies and topics related to Brooklyn's Newlab—a facility that All About Circuits toured. Catch up on our first article exploring what goes on in a tech lab and our final piece spotlighting Amogy, a startup using ammonia as a fuel for carbon-neutral transportation.