Published: June 16, 2022

Shanel WuATLAS PhD Candidate Shanel Wu (they/them) recently was awarded a $50,000 Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) Traiblazer Fellowship. The Fellowship began this summer and ends in June 2023. 

Wu, a member of Assistant Professor Laura Devendorf'Unstable Design Lab, will use the fellowship to support their dissertation project, making open hardware interfaces for the loom and using that as a case study to explore issues of doing open hardware in academia.

According to the OSHWA website, the call for Trailblazer Fellows was "incredibly competitive." The fellows were chosen by the program’s mentors and an OSHWA board selection committee. 

Wu researches smart textiles, wearable electronics, and sustainable futures for these technologies, contributing to the lab’s open-source weaving design software, AdaCAD, and open textbook for prototyping smart textiles. Devendorf is Wu’s PhD advisor, and will also be a partner on the fellowship, representing the lab’s introduction to open hardware.

Wu received their Bachelor of Science in physics from Harvey Mudd College, with a focus on applications to computing technologies. Of note, they also became a self-taught fiber artist during their undergraduate years, which informs their current research focus on textile-based circuitry and fabrication. Whether their hands are working with yarn, solder, fabric, or silicon, Wu embraces an open-source philosophy as a way to meld STEAM and community-driven social justice. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, OSHWA is taking a giant step towards expanding open source hardware in academia through the Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellows initiative. The one-year fellowship provides grants to individuals who are leading the way as open source hardware expands into academia. The fellows will document their experience of making open source hardware in academia to create a library of resources for others to follow. 

Reposted in part from the OSHWA website.