The next time you attempt to fix your remote control, remember that somewhere in America is a 12-year old boy named Rohan Agrawal who builds robots. He spent the last few months at OLogic, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company known for designing robots for Google and Disney.
During his time there, Agrawal built a device that could autonomously deliver bags of potato chips throughout the office.
"I'm self taught," says Agrawal, who started programming at age 4, and says his first language was HTML. "My mom showed me Google once and I was really fascinated by it. I asked her how it works and she told me you use this thing called HTML."
So he started to study coding, and by the age of 5 he built his first basic website. Shortly after, a trip to Cupertino's electronic flea market sparked his interest in hardware. His parents bought him a digital circuit book and a kit. He built all of the examples in the book, and he was 6 at this time.
He then refined his skills by attending a robotics club. By the time he was 9 he got a ham radio license for his birthday. From this, he learned about Arduino boards. When he was 10 he joined creative group Hacker Dojo, where he worked with a team whose goal was to build robots for under $500.
OLogic accepted Agrawal as a summer intern after Agrawal's father reached out to the company through the Hacker Dojo.
OLogic's vice president of engineering, Mike Thompson, who worked one-on-one with Agrawal, said having such a young intern was "kind of an experiment on our part." But the pre-teen "absolutely stunned us with what he knew."
"He has an insatiable curiosity about everything robotics," Thompson says. "The challenge for us was keeping one to two steps ahead of him and keeping him busy."
The company couldn't pay him because of his age, so they bought him lunch everyday instead. Thompson says he would hire Agrawal if given the chance. Here's a video of Agrawal in action at OLogic:
Now that the internship is over, Agrawal is back at work in his mini-studio: a converted garage with a soldering iron and scattered electronics.
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