Model behavior with microcontrollers: Kitty Yeung’s intersectional engineering spans art, science

Maker was helped by Hackster.io, that’s more than “a community for the sake of community”

Kitty Yeung is a self-described “Renaissance woman in the 21st century.”

Often, she wishes other people got this same opportunity.

“Current established industries don't often leverage people's multiple talents and passions,” Kitty said. “But the forthcoming generations of the workforce are getting more interdisciplinary and they need opportunities to develop and grow.”

Kitty’s stayed interdisciplinary herself through studies at Cambridge and a Harvard Ph.D. in applied physics, as well as through painting and fashion design work on “programmable clothing, computational textiles and wearable devices.

She says open-source communities such as Hackster.io, which aims to help anyone learn about hardware, help her to achieve this balancing act of art and science.

“The community is really friendly and welcoming, as well as supportive of my endeavors to pursue science, engineering, design and art at the same time,” Kitty said. “The community helps shape future industries and education to provide these opportunities.”

In fact, when she first started in programmable clothing, she learned a lot about microcontrollers on the Hackster.io platform. She even met friends through all the different maker profiles in the community—and has been able to give back to the community, too.

“I've been creating visual art in the form of painting and fashion design, at the same time working as a scientist/engineer creating new types of circuits and materials and designing experiments,” Kitty said. “With knowledge learned from the open-source platforms, I started embedding electronics into my fashion designs and contributing back to the community by sharing my making processes.” 

For Kitty, Hackster is also valuable because of its connections to the industry.

“Makers with tangible ideas need industry’s help to scale in order to benefit more people,” Kitty said. “Otherwise, ideas die at the idea stage.”

Kitty’s ideas have definitely made it past the idea stage, with her work highlighted by WOW Women of Wearables, Make: magazine and even her alma mater, Harvard. However, she believes makers can generate emerging technologies that have the opportunity to shift whole economic structures—and help with our daily lives, from medicine to transportation to fashion.

Much of that, Kitty said, can start with communities like Hackster.io.

“It's not just a community for the sake of a community,” she said, “but a place that naturally gathers people who are passionate about open-source hardware/software, creative projects and knowledge sharing.”      

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