I have a new STEM girl crush, and her name is Melonee Wise.
Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics, is by all accounts a gutsy broad. Despite her artistic leanings, the daughter of a camera technician “didn’t want to be poor,” according to this terrific piece by Signe Brewster. She also didn’t want to be boring. The math and engineering whiz could have pursued a cushy job at a large corporation, but she opted for a career that married her creative and technical skills: robotics.
“I felt like I needed to get into an environment that could embrace me,” Wise says. “I could be myself and I didn’t have to wear stupid khaki pants and a polo. I just didn’t want to settle.”
Wise went on to work at Willow Garage, where in addition to making significant and lasting contributions to her field technically she also launched and ran an intern program that produced female industry up and comers like Steffi Paepcke.
After her first venture, Unbounded, went bust, she and her team started over at a tech incubator that would eventually hatch Fetch Robotics. They couldn’t take the intellectual property from their previous company with them, according to Brewster’s story, so they had to start from scratch. Rather than lament the loss, Wise focuses on the bright side:
“It’s actually pretty liberating to be forced to think in a new direction,” Wise says. “I think sometimes as an engineer you cling to what you know and what you’re safe with doing. It totally changed how we approached the problem and made us more creative.”
All guts, no grousing. That’s the kind of female role model the STEM fields need.
And, based on her Twitter feed, Wise also knows how to have fun:
My battlebot is ready for a big day tomorrow @robogames2015. Dressed up in a sparkly tux and weighing in at 2.5lbs. pic.twitter.com/5bL7SYVdPN
— Melonee Wise (@meloneewise) April 3, 2015
— Melonee Wise (@meloneewise) April 9, 2015
Cats and bots!
— Melonee Wise (@meloneewise) April 7, 2015
See more of Wise and her team’s creations in action here: