Meet Alexa Zsofia Vas who is from Hungary, Győr. Alexa is a manufacturing technology engineer at Audi Hungaria’s engine factory and the founder of Low Cost Robotics, a med tech startup based in Hungary. In this interview, she shares a a bit about herself, running low cost robotics, how she balances it all and so much more.
Tell us about low cost robotics, why you started this company and what was the hardest part about starting this company?
In my childhood I was very interested in medicine, but I realized I couldn’t stand blood and I wasn’t as interested in biology either, but in the technical sciences I was really interested. since I wanted to help others, I thought I would bring medicine together with technology. therefore, when I was in high school, I started researching bionics at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, where I developed a robotic hand. Then I went to university and started Low-cost Robotics with my best friend and with one of my classmates. Since then we won the Social Impact Award and many other awards.
"The hardest part about this is that we don’t want any investors to be involved."
The hardest part about this is that we don't want any investors involved. I love my regular job and if I involve investors, I have to give this up. And also I don’t want to be a millionaire by selling prosthetics to children. Sooo we have to do everything in our free time, with limited resources. It’s just like someone else’s hobby, but we want to help others.
What impact do you want low cost robotics to have?
We’re developing a prosthetic arm for learning. We want to teach children how to use a prosthetic arm, so later (when they buy a high-tech prosthetic arm) they will use it much easier. Furthermore our mission is to erase differences between children and teach them to accept each other. We’re also developing a DIY robotic arm kit so everybody can have their own robotic arm and if they are playing together, you won’t tell which one is a prosthetic arm.
Did you always know you were going to do what you do now? If not, what did you think you would be doing?
Absolutely! I came from an engineer family, and I spent my childhood in the garage with my dad and grandpa repairing our cars, and household appliances, so I always knew mechanical engineering will be my way, I was literally born into this.
Tell us about the ted talk you gave in 2020, what was that experience like?
It was one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’m an introvert, I don’t like to talk in front of people. Luckily my talk could only be watched online, because due to Covid it wasn’t possible to hold offline events. So there were only a couple organizers sitting in the auditorium and me on the stage. I had a very super coach who helped me with everything and together we made a really cool talk on why we need more women in STEM.
What other hobbies do you have outside of STEM?
I really love to read, I have tons of books. I’m also in my university’s dragon boat team, and I’m a black belt Aikidoka. I’m doing Aikido since I was 6 years old. And I also go hiking with my boyfriend and exploring Hungary.
How do you manage your time?
I have planners, I make to-do lists, I plan my meals for the week (I have a really cool meal planner on my fridge) etc. I also use a planner for workdays and tasks, I also love to keep my Outlook calendar organized (I made categories, and assign my meetings & e-mails to the adherent category and it looks so nice, because it’s really colorful). I also schedule my daily chores, such as grocery shopping, going to the gym, etc. I try to go for grocery shopping once a week (I synchronize this with meal prepping), I clean up the house when I have shorter days at work, etc.
It’s really hard to stay focused because I have ADHD sooo doing everyday tasks are harder for me.
What advice do you have for women in STEM?
I can advise you not to let yourself be boxed. If they are unjust, dare to speak against it. And if you have to work with a female co-worker, don’t look at her as an opponent but as a partner. This is the only way to achieve change.
"If they are unjust, dare to speak against it...."
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes! I just started a TikTok for my hobby projects, you can find me as @PrintedByLexa https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdXBcJg8/ and I’m also planning a podcast about interesting STEM related topics for the Hungarian audience.