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Ayah Bdeir    

Former CEO & Founder of littleBits

Ayah Bdeir is the founder, inventor and CEO of littleBits, an award-winning platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. Bdeir is an engineer, interactive artist and one of the leaders of the open source hardware movement.

Ayah’s career and education have centered on democratizing hardware to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. She received her masters degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA and is part of the museum’s permanent collection. Other exhibits include her first solo show “Identities in Motion” at the Peacock Visual Arts gallery (Aberdeen), the New Museum (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz), Badcuyp and the Royal College of Art (London).

In 2008, Bdeir was awarded a fellowship at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and taught graduate classes at NYU and Parsons. She has lectured extensively and taught numerous workshops to get non-engineers, and particularly young girls, interested in science and technology. Bdeir was a mentor in the regional reality tv-show Stars of Science (initiated by Qatar Foundation) promoting science and technology innovation in the Middle East. She is also the founder of Karaj, Beirut’s lab for experimental art and architecture.

In 2010, Bdeir was granted a fellowship with Creative Commons in recognition of her work, including spearheading the first Open Hardware definition (which gave rise to the “CERN Open Hardware License”) and co-founding the Open Hardware Summit at the New York Hall of Science in September of 2010 and 2011.

In 2012, Bdeir was awarded the highly prestigious TED fellowship, as one of 25 innovators from around the world. Her TED talk: “Building Blocks that Blink, Beep and Teach” has over 1 million views. She was named a TED Senior Fellow in 2013.

Ayah Bdeir has been awarded one of Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of NY Business Journal’s Women of Influence, one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, one of Entrepreneur’s 10 Leaders to Watch, one of the CNBC Next List, and one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35.

littleBits has been called “LEGOs for the iPad Generation” and was named by CNN as 10 Startups to watch in 2013. littleBits products have won more than 25 tech and education awards including Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award, IDEA Gold Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Popular Science Best of Toyfair, Good Housekeepings Best Toy Award and multiple Makerfaire Educator’s Choice and Editor’s Choice Awards.

Originally from Lebanon and Canada, Ayah now lives in New York City.

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