What’s an engineer really like?
Xyla Foxlin may only be 20 years old, but she’s already started her own company. She also just launched a new YouTube channel, Beauty and The Bolt, to show how cool, fun and easy engineering can be and hopefully change perceptions about what engineers are really like.
Xyla is a mechanical engineering student at Case Western Reserve University and founded the company “Parihug.” During a hackathon she and her partner came up with the idea to create an internet-connected bear, that lets you hug someone across the country. They ended up turning that project into a new business. Using wifi and Bluetooth technology, when you hug one “Pari” bear, it sends a gentle vibration so someone across the country with a “Pari” bear, can feel your hug.
Xyla says she went into engineering because she has always been fascinated with robots. She’s majoring in mechanical engineering but she also enjoys electronics and software as well. She describes engineering as an art and believes they are much of the same thing. To do both, you have to be really creative and more importantly, she shares, you have to understand people because you are designing for people.
Beauty and the Bolt
Besides going to school and running her own startup, Xyla also recently started her own YouTube channel with a fellow student. They want to break the stereotypes of engineers. They want students and others to understand that engineers don’t have to look, act or dress a certain way. The channel “Beauty and the Bolt” offers videos in several different categories, including introductions to tools, DIY projects, as well as some more advanced engineering tutorials.
Being a woman in tech
It can be difficult being a woman in a technical, engineering field, but Xyla wants to encourage other girls not to be afraid of it. She herself has come a long way.
In a recent tour around her startup space at Case Western Reserve University, Xyla proudly shows off a box of her “failures.” She says it’s probably two months worth of attempts working on their bear, but she wants people to understand that it didn’t take one try to get it right. It’s taken hundreds of tries and they are still working on it.
It’s taken her a long time to overcome her own insecurities and fear of failure. Being in college surrounded by other women in tech has helped give her courage to ask “why” and not be afraid or embarrassed to fail.
Xyla worries that some students place too much pressure on themselves to achieve a perfect GPA. She shares that while she breezed through elementary school, she struggled in middle school and much of high school. But she didn’t let her grades define her. She led her high school robotics team and got as much experience learning different things as she could. Her philosophy is to learn as much as you can. She values experience over a grade point average when she’s hiring engineers for her startup.
“It’s what you can do, not necessarily what someone else told you you can do that matters.”
Importance of Internships
Xyla says her internship at Boston’s iRobot gave her amazing access to resources and engineers, experience she still uses today. She says, especially for hands-on learners like herself, internships really give students a hands-on experience they can’t get in the classroom.
Resources available at Case Western
Xyla shares how LaunchNet and think[box] at Case Western Reserve University have helped her grow as an engineer and aspiring entrepreneur.
Check out Beauty and the Bolt YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCFFTRNzbAAONw9vQ3lXdg
Or visit the website: http://beautyandthebolt.com/
Check out Parihug: http://parihug.com/
Xyla is working on a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
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