Graduation Keynote Speaker: Ayah Bdeir
Ayah Bdeir is an engineer and social activist. She is the inventor of littleBits, the electronic building block that has transformed STEM education for millions of kids around the world. For over a decade, Bdeir’s work has centered around empowering everyone to be an inventor through play and creativity, with a particular focus on underrepresented communities. A graduate of the MIT Media Lab, Bdeir founded and ran littleBits as a company and raised over $100 million from prominent investors in Silicon Valley and New York until it was acquired by Sphero in 2019. Today, more than 20 million “Bits” are in the hands of kids, teachers, parents and artists in over 70 countries. And littleBits has won over 150 awards including Toy of the Year. To further her mission of democratizing technology, Bdeir founded global and local community platforms: in 2009 she co-founded the Open Hardware Summit, the largest open source hardware community; and in 2019, she co-founded the Directory of the Lebanese Revolution: a platform to help political and civic activists to further democracy in her native country of Lebanon. In recognition of her work, Bdeir has received numerous awards, including: BBC 100 Most Influential Women, Inc Magazine Top 100 Female Founders, and Popular Mechanics 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream. Her TED talk about littleBits has more than a million views and Bdeir has appeared on the covers of The New York Times Magazine, WIRED, Marie Claire and recently in 60 Minutes. Her inventions are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and she holds over a dozen patents. Prior to MIT, Bdeir earned degrees in Computer and Communications Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut. Born in Montreal and raised in Beirut, Bdeir now lives and works in New York.