I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, CA. I grew up bilingual (and bi-cultural), my mom being Brazilian and my dad American. My favorite toys were Legos, my favorite books were Encyclopedia Brown and Choose Your Own Adventure, and my favorite food was sushi, which it continues to be, though I often have cravings for some good Mexican food. Up until college I frequently visited my family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For pre-school, elementary, and middle school I attended First Lutheran School of Northridge, where I first learned about and decided I wanted to be an engineer or scientist (though like all good kids, I still had aspirations to be an astronaut). I subsequently went to Chaminade College Preparatory, where I ran cross-country, played soccer and volleyball, and, in my senior year, worked on a couple drama productions (stage and running crew). I also learned Spanish!
After graduating from Chaminade, I accepted a UC Regents Scholarship to the University of California, Santa Cruz. While there I made many lasting friendships, learned French, got addicted to gaming (of the non-gambling variety), and continued to buy Legos (of the Star Wars variety). During the summers of 2001 and 2002 I interned in the QA department at Blue Falcon Networks (now Akimbo). As a senior, I became a Stevenson College Junior Fellow, where I co-taught a section of "Self and Society," Stevenson College's (IMO excellent) freshman seminar course. Also during my senior year I took CMPE 117: Embedded Systems, where we programmed Lego Mindstorms robots (!). I had so much fun I decided I wanted to pursue Robotics in the future. I graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in Computer Engineering with a Systems Programming focus.
In one of my French classes I learned about the French Department of Education's Language Assistant program and decided that would be a great way to take some time off, see Europe, and solidify my French. I had the time of my life living in Lyon, France, and teaching English to high schoolers at Lycée Condorcet in St. Priest. Here I began to realize I had a passion for learning languages and experiencing other cultures and history.
When I returned, I lived for a year in Palm Springs, CA, while working for CarBot, Inc. (now part of Streetdeck.com). While roasting in the desert, I helped design, build, and program the UI for aftermarket in-car computers and worked on some of the website features. I also provided customer support to international customers.
In the fall of 2005 I finally returned to school as a Masters student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Since being here I've learned lots about robotics and have been conducting research on robots as home/office assistants. See my research/projects page for more details. On the non-robotics sides of things I began learning German and am taking an introductory linguistics class at UPitt, which I'm so far enjoying. Also, through various initiatives of CMU's TechBridgeWorld I've become aware of the issues involved with bringing technology to developing communities. The application of technology to solve social problems like healthcare, education, and the environment is something in which I am also interested.