News Article

Student Spotlight: Farita Tasnim '19

Farita Tasnim '19

September 23, 2016

Each year, Her Campus (an online web publication written for, by, and about college women) publishes a list of “22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women.” This year, Farita Tasnim ’19 received this unique honor.

“I was really excited and really surprised,” said Tasnim. Thousands of college women apply to be recognized each year. Tasnim believes she was chosen because of her work in robotics and energy harvesting while she was in high school. One project, a solar energy project called UrbanSoleil, is an instrumentation device intended to help users maximize solar energy output in urban areas. The second, an ocean wave energy harvesting device, gathers power from beach waves, allowing users to charge batteries or power small devices. The ocean wave project earned her a $36,000 Clean Energy Scholarship from the Proton OnSite Scholarship and Innovation Program.

But Tasnim believes her greatest high school accomplishment was participating in the international FIRST Robotics competition. After learning from upperclassmen and her advisor for two years, Tasnim became team captain during her junior year, powering her team to first place in the Southeast United States Regional Competition and earning them a spot in the World Championships. Her success with the team sparked two developments: interest in robotics among female classmates increased, and Tasnim discovered her own passion for teaching others about robotics and STEM.

In addition to helping peers, Tasnim shares her passion for math and engineering through tutoring and speaking to elementary school and middle school students. She has also worked with Girls Incorporated, a nonprofit organization for empowering girls. “Electrical engineering is my favorite subject, so I like to pass that along to any younger people that I meet,” she said.

Although her “22 Under 22” profile focuses on Tasnim’s high school accomplishments, she’s made her mark at MIT as well. Her favorite freshman-year project was creating a fluxgate magnetometer in 6.101 (Analog Electronics Laboratory), but this year, Tasnim is ready to put her energy into a different kind of endeavor. “I’m starting a club called HackFashion,” she said excitedly. “[It’s] going to use all of MIT’s resources, undergrad and grad students, and pool it all together to make MIT a global hub of fashion engineering.” With determination she added, “It’s an emerging market, so I’m going full forward now.” HackFashion is in the process of attaining ASA recognition, and Tasnim hopes the group will become official this fall. As of the start of the semester, HackFashion had about ten members; Tasnim plans to recruit at least fifty before spring.

And she has no shortage of ideas about HackFashion’s goals. “Currently, there exists no open-source software that allows fashion designers to create 2D patterns [and] transform them into 3D visualizations, or go from 3D visualizations or pictures of clothes to 2D patterns,” she explains. The price of existing proprietary software runs to six figures, so she aims to develop an open-source version. Other goals include automating the clothing fabrication process and creating wearable technology. “One of the biggest pushes for HackFashion is going to be creating clothes [and] accessories that allow you to transmit electric signals, to sense things, to sense your environment, [and to] respond to your environment.” Tasnim also plans to host a wearable technology runway show and a hackathon similar to the existing MIT Hack Arts festival, but with a focus solely on fashion. Although Tasnim was the only MIT student selected by Her Campus this year, she encourages her fellow classmates to apply for the honor next year. As for advice, she urges, “Mention everything that you’re passionate about . . .You have to follow your passions in everyday life. I try to live by that daily. Do the things that make you happy and that can help empower others to be happy as well.”

Words by Isabella Dionne, video by Stephanie Tran.

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