It’s not often that I get a shout-out like I did when Eric Smalls mentioned me in his TEDx talk.

How do I know this young man?  It all started back in 2010 when he posted a question on the forums


He never stopped asking questions and I tried to help him as much as I could.  Thanks to his persistence and hard work, he has racked up a very impressive and inspiring list of accomplishments:

  • In 2012, President Barack Obama featured Smalls in a campaign video about the importance of STEM education.
  • Prior to studying at Stanford, Smalls participated in the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science, a six-week residential program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a contributor to Carnegie Mellon University’s Multi-Robot Research Project.
  • He also interned at the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory, a robotics lab where he developed computer vision software for autonomous drones.
  • In his first year at Stanford, Smalls founded the Stanford Robotics Club, which has over 100 active members.
  • His current projects include creating a robotics major at Stanford and building Compass, a web application to help students navigate their time at Stanford.

I am very happy to have been a small part of his journey.  So remember, answering a simple question by an unknown new user on that forum that you frequent can make more of a difference than you think.  The only stupid answer is the one you didn’t bother to give.  Share you knowledge and experience; you may inspire great accomplishment in others.

Eric also has a very cool Youtube channel, which features quite a lot of his earlier stuff, like the CMU Multi-Robot project.

STEM education video: