Xyla is the CEO and founder of Parihug, and a Mechanical Engineer with a minor in Studio Art at Case Western Reserve University. With passions ranging from aviation to theater, she loves all combinations of art and technology, and can frequently be found tinkering with projects that combine the two.
Xyla strives to be the woman she wish she had to look up to growing up: passionate and invested in what she does technically, but also maintaining femininity and external interests like fashion and art. She prides herself in being the one in a dress at robotic design reviews, and the one blur of pink in the machine shop. After years of being told girls can't build robots or fly airplanes, Xyla tries to spend as much time volunteering with elementary schools to make sure they don't feel the same way.
As a strong believer in integrating art, engineering, and psychology, Xyla founded Parihug in 2015. These plush toys let you hug loved ones from anywhere in the world, adding the humanity back into how people communicate over the internet.
Although Xyla is a MechE, she's definitely a bit of a closeted electrical engineer as well. She specializes in robotics and integrating systems and disciplines. She was president of the CWRU Robotics Team and an engineer on rocket team with NARS Level 1 certification.
Who says engineers can't be creative? In fact, Xyla's philosophy is that engineering is just another form of art. Although she may not be DaVinci, Xyla makes sure to spend at least 6 hours a week in the art studio as an art minor.
Parihug makes electronically-connected teddy bears, that let loved ones hug each other from a distance. Two people can be on different sides of the world, each with their own bear. When one is hugged, a suite of soft, fabric-based sensors detects the hug and transmits a message to the other bear. The receiving bear then hugs its owner with a gentle vibration-- haptic telepresence! The bears allow loved ones to connect with each other when they physically cannot be together, and brings the humanity back into technological connection.
After months of filming, editing, building, designing, and many many cups of coffee, I launched the Youtube Channel Beauty and the Bolt with my friend and colleague Andrew Dupuis.
In the summer of 2016 I reached out to Andrew with the concern that the tutorials put out by CWRU's makerspace, think[box], were too intimidating, especially for first-time makers. We started with the goal of just making video tutorials for think[box], but as we worked on the project we realized just how impactful a youtube channel starring a female maker could be.
As Disney lovers, framing the channel around Belle made the most sense-- she is brilliant, unafraid to be herself, and badass, but also gentle, feminine, and relatable. Thus, Beauty and the Bolt was born.
Our mission is to reduce the barrier to entry into makerspaces and the makerspace movement, as well as subtly change the narrative of what an engineer should look, act, and dress like. Femininity and engineering are not mutually exclusive.
Please enjoy, share, subscribe, and most importantly-- don't be afraid to learn something and try new things!