Angela Bamblett knows robots inside and out. While she might be a rookie on the Icewave team for ABC TV series "BattleBots," she's an experienced mechanical designer and mechanical engineer for Burlingame, Calif.-based Double Robotics. She also happens to be an MIT grad.
When she's not designing competitive 'bots, Bamblett is also mom to a toddler daughter, and she tells mom.me just how important #girlpower is for all kids. Not only that, but the mechanical designer also shares how important "struggle and failure" are to engineering and what phrase she never wants to hear again.
What inspired you to start working on badass robots?
There are quite a few reasons that I'm inspired to work on a BattleBot, not the least of which is that I'm an engineer and I find the process of designing, fabricating and creating a working end-product to be just ... well, fun. It's what I like to do.
But with the opportunity to participate in the TV show on ABC came even more inspiration: a) I love the chance to show lots of people that science and technology knowledge can lead to really, truly fun things. It's not all business suits, long days and building a better coffeemaker. Learning engineering is really about giving yourself the tools you need to create whatever you have in your head, turn that idea into a real object that you can share with the world, and b) I also like that the show is able to tell the builders' stories and show people, especially children, how struggle and failure are also part of engineering — indeed, they're part of normal life. Only one 'bot can win, but we all still build knowing that we might lose at any time. We still build, knowing that in the Battle Box, our robot might get totally destroyed at any time. Lots of things in life are worth trying, even if you aren't sure you'll succeed.
What are the best and most challenging parts about working with a team on a robotics project and show like "BattleBots"?
For me, the best part of working on a BattleBot and being on the show is the actual process of building Icewave. I love to brainstorm ideas for improvements or features with my teammates, then take those ideas and make them in the shop. It's fun to see the finished part or assembly, and it's the most fun to bring everything together and see Icewave in the Battle Box, bearing down on an opponent with the engine screaming and the blade blurring. I'm always so proud to have been a part of making the bot.
The most challenging part is definitely the time it takes. I bet a lot of 'bot builders could agree on that part. My team and I all have full-time jobs, so to add in the long hours in the shop building Icewave means we barely get to see our friends and families for the couple months of the building season. Since I'm a mom, it takes a lot of buy-in and commitment from my entire family for me to be involved in this show. I couldn't possibly do it all without their support and my team's support.
You're showing serious #girlpower and #mompower. What do you want your kids to learn or take away from your experience?
I hope this experience teaches my children that they can do anything they put their minds to. They don't need to let anyone or anything but themselves define where they go in life and the hard work they're willing to put toward their dreams and goals. I chose engineering and "BattleBots," despite the little voices that sometimes said, "You're a woman; you can't do this" or "You're a mom; you shouldn't do this," because I refused to be limited by others' expectations of me. Whatever they choose, I hope my children will always do the same.
What is your favorite quality in a dad?
I actually don't like to hear moms and dads lumped into different categories. They are both equally capable and equally vital to their children and families. And my favorite quality is the same for a dad or a mom or anything in-between: involvement. Children grow so fast and absorb so much from the environment around them that I think it's a parent's significant loss if they don't make sure they're a big part of that environment. When I see or hear about parents who don't make time to just hang out with their children—to play with them and talk with them and watch the wonderful and amazing ways they grow and change—I feel really sad for them. I fear that they don't realize what they are missing, and by the time they do, it's often too late.
What did you think you'd be when you grew up?
For a while, I thought I might be an actress. But apparently, you have to like attention way more than I do for that job. From about junior high on, I knew I'd be some sort of scientist or engineer because I always liked my math, physics and science classes the best.
Lots of things in life are worth trying, even if you aren't sure you'll succeed.
What is the social media platform you can't live without?
I'm not sure I can't live without it, but my life is definitely enhanced by Facebook. My family and I have lived in a lot of places over the years, so we have extended family and friends all over the world. Facebook is a great way for me to stay in contact with them and for all of us to share photos and videos from our lives. I really appreciate being able to stay involved, despite the distance.
Who is your favorite fictional hero/heroine?
I am a big fan of Wonder Woman. I grew up watching Lynda Carter's "Wonder Woman" show on TV and loving the powerful, unstoppable and yet still kind woman she represents. I think it's so important, whether you're a girl or boy, to learn to be strong, be confident, be unstoppable, and yet not be hard and cold and lost to the world. We need our hearts and our compassion, too.
What was the last thing you binge-watched?
My TV-watching habits go in cycles. Right now, I'm on a Japanese anime kick, so the last thing I binge-watched was an anime series called "Heavy Object."
What word or phrase do you never want to hear again?
"I can't." It's such a self-limiting thing to say. I try to remind my children that there is nothing they can't do if they try harder, try something different, think about it a new way, or maybe just ask the right person for help. We try to work on instead saying, "I'm having trouble with ...."
What is your favorite motto?
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." My dad used that one pretty often, and I guess it stuck. I'm not a big fan of the "bubblegum and duct tape" solution that may work for now but will break tomorrow. I try to put my best into everything I do, so that means I'm pretty patient about taking the extra time and effort to make it great.