Ayanna Howard: Robots are the Future of Learning

February 28 - Sarah Ashlock


“Liar, liar, pants on fire.” I still don’t really get what that saying means. People lie to us every day and we lie right back. If your gut has been wrong way too many times (I’m looking at you, exes), here are some ways to help you spot a liar using research from the Harvard Business Review: Liars use a million words when just a few will do. They also tend to use more curse words and third-person storytelling, like he did that, she said this. Liars who do so through omission don’t get away with it as often because silence leaves us feeling suspicious. If you have a hunch that someone’s playing you, ask neutral questions to get a sense of their body language and eye movement, then ask direct questions about what seems fishy.


An even better way to find out the truth? Put on your Internet sleuthing hat, honey. Speaking of computers, each year, there’s a bigger and bigger push for getting women in STEM, even though only 28 percent of computer science degrees are earned by women. We might think computer-based careers are a snooze, but any woman with an informal degree in Internet stalking might say otherwise.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ayanna Howard, Founder & CTO at Zyrobotics LLC

Of course, computer science can be useful for more than sussing out a dude before the first date. As one of “the most powerful women engineers,” Dr. Ayanna Howard is an example of a woman who is using her computer expertise to make radical change.

Ayanna’s honors are immense: MIT Technology Review included her as one of the top 100 Young Innovators of the Year, and she acted as the senior robotics researcher for NASA. Now, she’s taking on an exciting venture as the founder and chief technology officer at Zyrobotics.

Following an active professorship at Georgia Institute of Technology, Ayanna is now offering a model in educational tech through Zyrobotics. Born as a Georgia Tech startup, it won the 2017 Summer Awards for best educational app and has been recognized by Google as a small business in Georgia that’s making an economic impact.

Through her university’s venture lab incubator, Ayanna has been able to license the research done in the lab so the public can learn from it. Some of her interests include home-based assistive robots and remote robotic exploration. (You know, just super casual curiosities, y’all.)

Zyrobotics “changes the way kids learn” through programs like STEM Storiez and TabAccess. The former offers interactive kid’s books with a focus on math and science and would be an invigorating addition to the classroom. There are visual, tactile and auditory elements to each book as a way to hone in on a child’s particular strengths.

The latter, TabAccess, is one of Zyrobotics most exciting innovations, as it enables interaction with tablet apps that otherwise would be difficult with those of varying abilities. Using button switches and grasp switches, it provides a more inclusive play experience.

For Ayanna, it’s not just about putting something out there that’s innovative; it’s about providing equal access to everyone. Regardless of gender, race or disability, Ayanna says she wants technology to improve kids’ ability to be on an equal playing field.


One woman who has come in to so many people’s lives and shared their stories is Oprah Winfrey. As she said:

"Honor your calling. Everyone has one. Trust your heart, and success will come to you."

Get On The Dot in your inbox each day.
Copyright 2018 © On The Dot Woman - All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy