Rebecca Li grew up in Milwaukee, WI with music and video games. After getting her BS in Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 2017, she moved to Palo Alto, CA where she currently works for Kitty Hawk as a controls engineer. She frequently visits Boston and New York City.

She is currently learning classical guitar, windsurfing, and biking. Past projects she wish she had more time for include photography, battlebots, electric vehicles, power electronics, violin, piano, kites, hiking, rock climbing, web design, jiu jitsu, and painting.

Random Project Ideas

(If you happen to build one of these, let me know! I would love to see it):

  • Handgun DSLR. Modern DSLRs are somewhat silly shaped. The true shape of a modern DSLR should be a handgun, much like Fluke’s thermal cameras.
  • Rustkell. A generic robotics platform such as ROS using modern languages. In particular, the C/C++ low-level and embedded is replaced with Rust, while the higher level logic is Haskell. Strong typing, memory safety, and aggressive compilers among other things would hopefully ensure that Ruskell would be a framework oriented around runtime safety, efficiency and clarity.
  • Coffee Grinder Alarm clock. Coffee smells good to basically everyone. For addicts, it has the added benefit of psychologically triggering the feeling of being awake. A coffee grinder that propels the scent of coffee into the air as one wakes up, combined with the loud and annoying sound of grinding would be a smash hit.
  • Electric skateboard “cruise control”. Two deadman switches are on the board. The front switch, when depressed, releases the electric brake, such that if you fall off the board, the board brakes and doesn’t run away. The back switch turns the board from “maintain speed” to “coast”. The idea is that the rider kicks up to a certain speed (front foot engaged so brake is off). When the desired speed is achieved, the rider puts their foot on the back switch, telling the board to maintain that speed. If they want to slow down slightly, the rider moves their back foot off the back switch to change to coast, and if they need to slow down quickly they remove their front foot coming to a stop (likely more abruptly than ideally desired).
  • Bird flight project. A bunch of “birds” (likely origami) are released such that they fall towards the person, recreating the effect of birds flying around a person head on. It is an exhilarating experience with real birds.
  • Flamingo leg model. According to this paper, flamingos are stable while resting on one leg but not on two. Dead flamingos were used to determine this. I would like to create a physical anatomical model to understand the legs.
  • Machine learning takes forever. Build an inverted pendulum (bonus points: double pendulum) and set a machine learning algorithm out on it to learn how to balance it. Alternatively can switch to a pre-written controls code. Watch as the machine frustrates with the swing up and basic control. Good desk toy.