Her interests are “Home chip fabs, pinball machines, race car chassis design”.
She is an electrical and mechanical engineer. I know nothing about this stuff and I’ve never met her or spoken to her. I chose her because she didn’t follow the well trodden university path, she did things her way. Jeri dropped out of high school to build custom dirt track race cars with her dad. But she guest lectures at Stanford now.
It’s from that Stanford lecture that I was inspired to choose her. Jeri proves that you do NOT have to go to university or even school to become a prominent scientist and do something cool for the world. She did however read “tons and tons of books” (you still have to put in the work, doesn’t matter where or who you are). I love Jeri’s approach and how she handles her passion for electronics and things. She talks about listening to them functioning to truly understand them. She is creative in her approach, and although she has devoured all the literature, she still finds ways to improve even the little things like debugging for example.
I thought you should have more information about her so what is below has been cobbled together using the web.
Jeri was born in Oregon in 1974 and at a young age she got interested in computers and her dad finally bought her the commodore 64. She had been interested in electronics forever though, tearing up VCRs and things. She taught herself how to program the C64 using the programmer manuals, and then after blowing it up (and getting it fix again) went on to become a veritable computer geek. I mean she made her own phone because her dad wouldn’t get her one. That is in a league of its own.
She started her own business in her early 20′s assembling and selling computers. A store became a chain of stores called “Computers Made Easy”. She sold the business in 2000 and decided to go to Walla Walla College in Washington and study circuit design. She ended up dropping out because she didn’t really fit in.
This didn’t matter at all because she went on to be a very very good circuit designer from what I gather! In 2004 she built the chip for the “Commodore 30-in-1 Direct to TV” joystick which sold over half a million units. She basically reverse engineered the C-64 into a chip. She also went on to do an awful lot more, as you will see on her Linkedin profile.
There is a fun series called “The Fatman and Circuit Girl” where “We prototype stuff and do hacks and make stuff and discuss creativity and have fun in public on a weekly webcast.”
I have it on good authority that her blog is really good, I however can’t understand any of it which is a shame. I am not a hardware person, basically if you can touch it, I don’t know what it is.
Being a woman in tech can be tough, it is true. I read recently that the number of women graduating in computer science in the US was below 20% now and it was around 40% in the 1980′s. That’s bad. We need the girls to be inspired by people like Jeri, and to see that they can get creative with chips or with search engines, anything at all. Karen Sparck-Jones said “Computing is far too important to be left to the men”. I don’t see why you guys should have all the fun.