Fashioning the Future With: Allie Weber
Allie Weber, a.k.a. Robot Maker Girl, is an award-winning inventor, a YouTube personality, and an inspirational young woman in STEM who happens to be thirteen years old. On her popular YouTube channel, Tech-nic-Allie Speaking, Allie showcases her own innovations, does tech reviews, and through creating all kinds of other fun content, provides unique insight into the creative process of a talented maker!
In addition to her online following, Allie has already racked up an impressive resume. Teen Vogue named her one of their 21 Under 21 Class of 2017. Allie was also a finalist in 3M's 2017 Young Scientist Lab. In 2016, Allie's Frost Stopper wearable, a temperature-sensing glove which helps prevent frostbite, won the Global Spark Lab Invent It Challenge. On top of those amazing accolades, Allie Weber is also the inspiration for the Robot Maker Lottie doll. She literally has her own action figure!
We love that Allie creates not only really cool inventions, but innovations that can improve people's lives (read on to find out about her Blow-Dart Spirometer, for example). Creating tech to improve the world is what Style Engineers Worldwide is all about, so we know that Tilly and the SEWing Circle would be honored to have Allie as a member!
We were thrilled to ask Allie some questions about her life as a maker. Check out what she has to say about how she got into inventing at a young age, what she's working on creating now, and which superhero's car she wants to drive one day.
When did you know that you were an inventor?
The first time I called myself an inventor was when I created Robie the Robot, a robot made completely out of recycled materials, for my first grade science fair. When I won the fair that year, I was so excited and inspired by the positive feedback I received that I decided to keep on making innovations.
What is your favorite thing about sharing your inventions on your YouTube channel?
I really enjoy the helpful insight I receive from my viewers if I have something that needs a little work. The amazing, thoughtful ideas that people send combined with my innovations make an excellent improvement to any creation. It’s also great to show people that kids are not the future, we are here now. We are not going to change the world someday, we already are.
Do you have a favorite invention that you’ve made?
One of my favorite innovations is the Got Your Back Binder Strap. It is a two-strap binder strap that hooks onto any standard binder, and allows you to wear it like a backpack. I came up with this idea after I was told that you weren’t allowed to wear backpacks in my middle school; instead, you were required to use a binder. Now, I don’t really like binders that much. They’re heavy, lopsided, uncomfortable, and bad for your spinal health when normally carried. I figured that there needed to be a way for me to carry my schoolwork comfortably without breaking any school rules. Bingo, the idea was sparked.
What exciting projects are you working on next/or is there a project you’ve had in mind that you’ve always wanted to build?
One of the things I’m working on improving now is my innovation, the Blow-Dart Spirometer. It is a piece of medical equipment I’ve been working on that is similar to an incentive spirometer and a peak flow meter. It works by having you blow through an angled tube, called a venturi tube. This measures how much air can be exhaled in one second, also known as FEV1. But that’s not all. As you’re taking these measurements, the device also allows you to shoot a foam dart onto a customizable wipe-board target. This allows you to have more fun when you’re in the hospital, or to be less afraid of being in the hospital (like I am) and receive more accurate results.
What advice do you have for girls your age who want to start making their own inventions?
Don’t ever think you can’t do it. You can! I entered my first online invention competition with the idea that nothing was going to happen. I wasn’t going to win. I didn’t have a huge, fantastic answer to world hunger or a cure for cancer. No, just a simple temperature sensor on a glove that acted as a frostbite warning system. Sure it was simple, but it worked. And yet… I didn’t think anything would happen. I almost didn’t enter. However, a couple weeks later I got the news that I had won! I was so excited, so enthused, that I kept making innovations and kept improving existing ones. So the moral of the story is that you don’t always need a huge, hard problem to solve. All you need is a creative solution.
Do you have any favorite engineer character in books/movies/other art forms?
One of the first characters I liked when I was really young was Widget from Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! She was a rabbit who liked to build gadgets, most actually ended in failure, but they were always way cool. I think that Widget one of the characters that inspired me to build my first robot when I was 6. Buzz Lightyear is always a favorite of mine. What’s not to like about a Space Ranger with a suit full of buttons and a laser! I’m also a Batman fan. Batman is so cool, and has a lot of gadgets, although many say he is not the brains behind them, only the money. My dream car is the 1980’s Batmobile and I hope to get one someday, either by buying it or making it. Also he beats up clowns, I don’t like clowns, so…
If you were a superhero, what would your go-to wearable tech device be?
My go to device would probably be the retractable wolverine blades, or the neuralyzer memory-wiper from Men In Black, except the neuralyzer would be built into sunglasses I could wear. That way I could look cool and keep villains from knowing too much at the same time.