About Me

Eric Smalls
Eric Smalls is a freshman at Stanford University. Eric was recently featured in President Barack Obama's Campaign video after writing a letter to the president about his background and the importance of STEM education. In high school, Eric completed a number of robotics projects and was a contributor for the ROBOT-C Multi-Robot project. This summer, he interned at UPenn's GRASP Laboratory where he developed computer vision software for quadrotors. In addition, Eric is the Founder & President of the Stanford Robotics Club which has raised over $30k in the 3 months since he founded it. Currently, he is the project leader for IGVC an autonomous mobile robot competition and lead software engineer for NASA’s Lunabotics Mining Competition. In his spare time, Eric enjoys hanging out with friends, making memes, watching a good movie, reading a good book, or playing soccer and ultimate frisbee!

About Blog
This site is a compilation of my ideas and sporadic eureka moments since I began my journey into robotics. Read the anecdote below to see how it all began.

"Off On An Adventure" 
During my junior year of high school, I decided to rekindle my childhood dream of becoming a scientist. While at Roxbrough High School, I contacted Mr. Koehler, a teacher who’s name I came across after I moved to Philadelphia, and began researching high schools I would apply to. Mr. Koehler runs the robotics club at the High School of Engineering and Science (HSES), in Center City. In October of 2010, I emailed him about my interest in science and inquired about joining the robotics club at HSES. Mr. Koehler welcomed me to stop by for their next meeting.

Being new to the city and its transportation system, I was apprehensive at first. Moreover, with my high school being two buses and a train ride away from HSES, it would be long after dark by the time I arrived home. But I was off on an adventure. So with my Google Maps in hand, I took the hour and a half trek to HSES. When I arrived, Mr. Koehler welcomed me in, and partnered me with a fellow student and the two of us began building a robot from the LEGO robotics kit. At the end of our meeting we put the myriad pieces back into the kit and stored our robot. As I walked out into the snow, Mr. Koehler stopped me. He said, “If you were willing to come all this way, I want to loan you this kit.” I smiled and gladly accepted his offer.

Much to my amusement, on my train ride home, my hands were tightly clinching the $300 kit, as my wary eyes darted back-and-forth. Thankfully my robot and I arrived home safely. As I walked through the door, my grandma asked what I was carrying. “It’s a robot,” I enthusiastically replied.“A robak?” “No, Grandma. A robot,” I corrected. Then she said, “What’s a robot?” and the two of us started laughing.

My spontaneous adventure turned into an odyssey when the Principal at Roxborough gave me permission to leave early on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could attend the robotics club at HSES. Since then, I have developed an intense passion for robotics and I have in turn funneled that passion into my robotic projects. What has been even more rewarding is my enrollment at HSES, this year, and election as President of the robotics club. Ultimately, my experience that day was the catalyst for my career interest in engineering so as a career, I would love to combine my passion for robotics with my fascination with space--designing robots to explore the first Earth-like planets and beyond.