Blog maker

Interview with Selin Ornek: A young maker who loves dogs, robots and Star Wars

Reading time: 3 minutes

What’s your history with doing things?

When I was eight years old, my dog ​​Korsan passed away. I was really upset and wanted to bring him back to life. I had to do a math project for school, and I had to interview a technical professional, so I asked my father’s friend, a mechanical engineer, a lot of questions then showed him a drawing of a robot that I wanted to make to bring Korsan back to life. He told me that I should learn coding and robotics. My English teacher also used MIT Scratch in class to make lessons more fun. I asked him how he made the games, because I loved to play Minecraft at this moment. He encouraged me to try making games myself using Scratch.

I also started learning to code from books and the internet. My parents then bought me an Mbot which I took apart and transformed into a small robot which I called “çirozbot” which means skinnybot. I used Scratch to code MBot and that’s where I learned that I would be able to do more advanced projects using Arduino and C++.

The first project I built was a smart dog collar with Arduino. I then used Arduino in the first version of IC4U. I had decided to take IC4U to Dublin for Coolest Projects International 2018, while building it I entered one of Coolest Projects social media contests and won my first Raspberry Pi Zero. Then I won first place in the hardware category at Coolest Projects, and one of my prizes was a Raspberry Pi 3B+. After that I started using Raspberry Pi in all my projects.

How did you discover Raspberry Pi?

As I became more confident in coding and used more advanced products in my projects, I started looking for other options I could use. Raspberry Pi was at the top of my list because I was looking for a powerful microcontroller and I was also very keen to learn to code with Python. Unfortunately, these were quite expensive, especially since I try to pay all the parts I use for my robots out of my allowance. So I was extremely happy to win a Raspberry Pi Zero and a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and start using them.

What was the first thing you did with Raspberry Pi?

IC4U2, [which was] the second version of my robot guide dog for the blind.

I had built IC4U because when we were on vacation in France, I saw a guide dog with his visually impaired master. I had never seen one before, as there were only a couple in Turkey at that time. It really made me think of Korsan and how sad I was when he died. I started to think that if I had been so upset, how would a blind person feel? Not only would they lose their best friend, but they would also lose their eyes.

So I decided to build IC4U, my robot guide dog. Both Guide Dogs UK and American Guide Dog Association were great, answered all my questions and explained to me how a guide dog is trained and what they should do. I built the first version using Arduino, IC4U and won first place in Coolest Projects International 2018 in the hardware category. I also very kindly received a Google AIY Voice HAT and vision kit. As soon as I got home, I started building IC4U2.