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Meet Avra!

SparkFun's newest Technical Content Creator is joining Rob to bring you all the information you need on SparkFun products and projects!

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Howdy SparkFans! My name is Avra Saslow, and I’m so stoked to be joining you as the new Technical Content Creator. I’ve worked on catalog curation at SparkFun for about a year as an intern, but have now transitioned into a role in which I get to explore and showcase what’s possible with SparkFun products.

Meet Avra!

I initially got my start in the maker community in high school, where I explored the intersectionality between metalworking and electronics. I built a pair of glass speakers and a steampunk MIDI controller with a few surface transducers and an Arduino.

Metal Working

Fast forward to college - I found myself still hooked on electronics when my brother and I would ride our bikes on the Thursday Night Cruiser Ride here in Boulder, with a hundred other people who jury-rigged speakers and LEDs to their bikes for each themed ride.

I pursued that curiosity and studied Computer Science with an emphasis in design, geographic information systems and mathematics at CU Boulder (Sko Buffs!). If you can’t tell from what I studied, I’m really captivated by the intersection of multiple disciplines, and I’m hoping to showcase how various technical frameworks and ecosystems can build on each other.

RedBull Hack the Hits

My degree allowed me to not only study the fundamental technical aspects of CS, but also to be really creative in projects. I was selected to compete at a hackathon hosted by Red Bull called “Hack the Hits,” in which my team and I created an interactive DJ set inspired by the motions of physics.

I’ve collaborated with Specialized Bicycles to create an app that encourages kids to get out and ride their bikes. I’ve also done quite a bit of web development, ranging from a website that finds suitable sites to build solar farms using Machine Learning, to dynamic visualizations of the effects of urban surfaces (concrete and asphalt) on overall Earth albedo, to an interface that couples with an OBD-II to display all of your car’s information in a meaningful and elegant way.

Outside my current areas of specialty, I’m looking forward to integrating GPS/GNSS/IoT/ML technologies to improve our reporting capabilities on environmental applications (think fire tracking, precise weather data collection...what are your ideas for applications?).

I’m also hoping to provide you with a framework that more clearly connects the dots between hardware and software, so you can iterate on your hardware projects to make them more dynamic and agile (incorporating IoT, building Machine Learning models, creating mobile and web apps, and any other ideas you want explored!).

My job will be the most fulfilling for you and me if we work together, so let me know what kind of technologies and projects you all would like to see! What kinds of projects have you gotten stuck on? Why did you get stuck? What technologies interest you? Comment below and we can start working together!

In the meantime, as I’ll be producing content for SparkFun, you can also find me building swing bikes and e-bikes, reading about space and chaotic dynamics, or just riding my bike, kayaking, skating and adventuring throughout Colorado. I can’t wait to start working with you!


Comments 4 comments

  • Welcome Avra!

    I'm looking forward to what you bring us! Things have certainly changed in the 55 or so years since I started tinkering with electronics, and with computers a few weeks after Neil Armstrong's "one small step". I'm sure that they'll change a lot more in the next 50 or so years, and you'll be one of the folks helping to accomplish that.

    One thought: a lot of what you're talking about doing will be dependant upon communications, so you might want to study up a bit in that department, if you don't already have knowledge there. There's a lot of unlicensed stuff (e.g. WiFi, BLE, XBee) that has limited range, stuff that you have to have a "paid subscription" to use (e.g. cellular, Irridium), and stuff you need a license to use, such as Amateur (Ham) Radio for "non-commercial" use only (see the ARRL web site for info on licensing). (Just for "full disclosure", I hold both a commercial ["General Class Radiotelephone", or when I actually got it in the 70s, "First Class Radiotelephone"] license, and an "Extra Class" Amateur license.)

    Anyway, there's a wonderful, exciting, and ever expanding world ahead of you!

  • Welcome! Looking forward to seeing what you create and share.

  • Really looking for fun stuff in low cost software defined radio.

    • There are a ton of incredible possibilities for applications with SDR! Anywhere from diving deep into radio astronomy to building your own cellular network. Thanks for the input...I'll be sure to incorporate SDR into future projects!

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