She is known to her fans as “Ladyada.” She is the first female engineer to grace the cover of WIRED. She is a not-so-traditional-looking MIT engineer, who grew up in a hacker scene in Boston and founded an open-source electronics company. She is Limor Fried, the CEO of Adafruit, a maker of DIY open source engineering and electronics kits, accessible for consumers of any age or skillset. Fried believes that everyone has an engineer or a maker inside them and that introducing electronics early on will lead to more young people choosing STEM careers down the road.
Q1. You founded Adafruit to create electronics kits for DIYers shortly before getting your master’s in electrical engineering from MIT’s Media Lab. What was the inspiration behind establishing your own company?
L.F: Back when I was still in school, around 2005, I was having a lot of fun building electronics. I had been learning about microcontrollers as part of my undergraduate internship and it was tons of fun. Once I built some projects, I would publish them on my website. People loved the projects like my Mini MP3 player and emailed asking if I would sell them a kit of parts. Eventually I got so annoyed by all these emails, I started kitting up some simpler projects for sale. They were so popular, it became my life.
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.