True Tech

Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg, CLA '14
You could say Abby Sydnes, Class of 2017, has science in her genes. The daughter of two engineers who met while working for IBM, she remembers watching her father build computers. And before she was in middle school, she had become interested in hardware development.
During her sophomore year, Sydnes led a team of students who competed in Brown University’s Robotics Olympiad. With the help of James Novino and Jake Holohan, both Class of 2016, Sydnes built a robotic micromouse meant to navigate a maze. Though the robot didn’t find its way out in the allotted time, the team won an award for its design.
This past summer, her talents earned her an internship at a NASA laboratory in Ohio, where she worked with some of the country’s top scientists.
DEGREE: BS, electrical and computer engineering, College of Science and Technology, Class of 2017
HOMETOWN: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
What were your responsibilities as a NASA intern?
My main project involved working to combine integrated radio and optical communication systems into a hybrid for use in deep space.
What does the fall semester hold in store for you?
I am secretary of Temple Robotics, working on the micromouse project in hopes of this time completing the maze in the Brown competition, and possibly entering other competitions.
I will still be working as the lead teaching assistant for the Introduction to Engineering course. I hope to work closely with the lead professor to revolutionize the class with new
projects and hopefully attract more women to the field.
How do you see the environment for young girls in STEM-related fields?
In most of my electrical engineering classes, there are about three women, which is usually equivalent to about 10 percent of the class. I think because of low numbers like that, young girls are often scared away because they feel that they won’t be accepted by their male counterparts. In my experience, this isn’t true. Also, because of the few number of women in STEM-related fields, women tend to support each other.
Our president of Temple’s chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is a female, and my division chief at NASA was female. The dynamic in the workforce and the classroom is definitely changing.
To watch a video of Sydnes’ robotic mouse in action, visit