Taylor Gandolfi graduated from the University of Miami in 2016 with a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media and an impressive portfolio. As part of the program’s capstone project, Gandolfi built her own robotic hand.

After graduating from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design in 2014, Gandolfi decided that University of Miami School of Communication was the right fit for her.

A physical computing and prototyping class sparked Gandolfi’s interest in robotics. Once she learned the basics, she was given physical computing-related projects at her internship at Sapient Nitro, a marketing and technology services firm.

“It doesn’t feel like I’m doing work, it feels like I’m playing around,” Gandolfi said.

She decided that her portfolio needed a robot, so she built one. It ended up taking her the whole semester.

“I’d say it was the most stressful and rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Gandolfi said.

Kim Grinfeder, the director of the Interactive Media Program, was impressed. 

“Taylor [Gandolfi] is extremely talented with a broad skill set. Her projects are creative and often intersect various disciplines,” Grinfeder said.

Along with building the robotic hand, Gandolfi also shared her technique with the public by creating a tutorial for her website. After watching the tutorial, even Grinfeder’s daughter wants to build a robot of her own.

“When I showed Taylor [Gandolfi]’s project to my daughter, she thought it was so cool that [her] robot has accessories (she put bracelets on it) and immediately wanted to build her own,” Grinfeder said. “I was so proud at how quickly Taylor [Gandolfi] had become a role model.”

Over the summer, Gandolfi spent three weeks in Austria enrolled in a program dedicated to using technology for the Syrian refugee crisis. The class created Lives in Motion, a twitter bot that searches for conversations about refugees by using keywords. The chosen key words were “refugees,” “migrants,” “ISIS” and “terrorists.” The goal of the bot was to change the way refugees are portrayed on social media.

On top of being a full-time student and building a robotic hand during her last semester of grad school, Gandolfi was also received a job offer from SapientNitro and was working full time. Her hard work definitely paid off, as she was promoted as soon as she got back from Austria.

To see Gandolfi’s tutorial and the rest of her projects, visit http://www.taylorgandolfi.com/.