Ayah Bdeir is an engineer, interactive artist and one of the leaders of the open source hardware movement. Bdeir’s career has centered on advancing open hardware to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. She is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an award-winning platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small, named one of the 50 smartest companies in 2016 by MIT Technology Review. Previously she was the co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab.
Bdeir was named a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Honoree, one of one of Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, one of Entrepreneur’s 10 Leaders to Watch, one of the CNBC Next List, and one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35.
In 2012, Bdeir was awarded the highly prestigious TED fellowship, as one of 25 innovators from around the world. Her TED talk: “Building Blocks that Blink, Beep and Teach” about littleBits has over 1 million views. She was named a TED Senior Fellow in 2013.
Prior to littleBits, Bdeir was awarded a fellowship at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and taught graduate classes at NYU and Parsons. She has lectured extensively and taught numerous workshops to get non-engineers, and particularly young girls, interested in STEM and STEAM. Bdeir was a mentor in the regional reality tv-show Stars of Science (initiated by Qatar Foundation) promoting science and technology innovation in the Middle East. She is also the founder of Karaj, Beirut’s lab for experimental art and architecture.
In 2010, Bdeir was granted a fellowship with Creative Commons in recognition of her work, including spearheading the first Open Hardware definition (which gave rise to the “CERN Open Hardware License”) and co-founding the Open Hardware Summit at the New York Hall of Science in September of 2010 and 2011.
Her work has been exhibited at MoMA and is part of the museum’s permanent collection. She has also exhibited work at the Peacock Visual Arts gallery (Aberdeen), the New Museum (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz) and the Royal College of Art (London).
Bdeir has a degree in Media Arts and Sciences from the Computing Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab, and before that she obtained undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut.
Ayah now lives in New York City.
Portrait by Mark Mahaney