The hardest class I ever took at MIT was 2.007. It was the infamous robotics competition for sophomore mechanical engineering students. I was given a box of sheet metal, wheels, two motors, an arduino board, and a semester to make it transform into a moving robot. I struggled; and at the time, I swore off engineering forever.

The learning curve for this class, for someone of my background, was not steep, but rather, insurmountable. I did not grow up fixing cars with my dad. In fact I had never touched a power tool until college. I was already intimidated by my peers in this aspect, but in addition, I had no previous exposure to circuits, programming, or computer aided design. This lack of skills is my motivation for piloting the Girls Who Buid workshops. It is my vision that when girls enter college, they have the same hands-on engineering background as their peers. I want girls to realize, as I had, that they can use power tools, code, and solder too. For many girls, like myself, the issue did not lie in ability or intelligence, but in a lack of preparedness and low confidence.

Today, I am pursuing my PhD in ocean engineering in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. To get to where I am today, and I truly believe I have found my niche and passion, it took switching majors, joining Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, attending an advanced machine shop class, taking and then TA'ing 6.00 Intro to Computer Science, interning at BMW in automotive controls, taking a graduate level course in robotics, developing a novel aluminum-water energy system for autonomous underwater vehicles, and researching ocean robotics at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

I am grateful that I eventually found the right career for me, but I would love girls to discover the amazing power of engineering sooner, before they even apply to college. My intention for this program is to spark girls interests in engineering through technology they use and see everyday. In addition, the program supplies them with the basic hands-on skills they would need to be both successful and confident in this field. 

-Kristen Railey

Founder and PhD Student at MIT

Earning my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in June 2013.

Earning my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in June 2013.