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Ayah Bdeir
Date and place of birth
b. 1982, Montreal, Canada
Current location
New York, NY
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2008091011, Research Resident

Ayah Bdeir is an inventor, entrepreneur, and social activist.

For over a decade, Bdeir’s work has centered around empowering everyone to become tomorrow’s changemakers, with a particular focus on underrepresented communities, especially girls.

A graduate of the MIT Media Lab, Bdeir invented littleBits, the electronic building block that has transformed STEM education for millions of kids around the world. She raised over $70M for her company littleBits Electronics, from prominent investors in Silicon Valley and New York, and the company was acquired by Sphero in 2019 to form a leader in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). Today, more than 20 million “Bits” are in the hands of kids, teachers, parents, and artists… in over 70 countries. And littleBits has won over 150 awards, including Toy of the Year.

In 2009, Bdeir cofounded the Open Hardware Summit, which today is the largest community of open-source hardware enthusiasts in the world and has led to the CERN Open Hardware License.

In 2019, when a revolution broke out in Lebanon, Bdeir’s home country, Bdeir went back to Beirut and co-founded Daleel Thawra (translation: Directory to the Revolution), a platform to help political and civic activists use technology to further democracy. The platform is considered the primary reference for the popular revolution and reaches over 45,000 people in Lebanon, and continues to grow.

In recognition of her work, Bdeir has received numerous awards, including BBC 100 Most Influential Women (2019), New York Times Groundbreaker (2019), Inc Magazine Top 100 Female Founders (2018), CNBC Next List (2015), MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 (2014), and Popular Mechanics 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream (2014). She has received fellowships from Creative Commons and TED, and her TED talk, “Building Blocks that Blink, Beep, and Teach,” has garnered more than a million views. Bdeir has appeared on the covers of The New York Times Magazine (2011), WIRED UK (2016), Marie Claire (2018), Forbes Middle East (2015), MAKE Magazine (2019), and others. She was most recently featured on 60 Minutes (2019).

Her inventions are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and have appeared in The New Museum, The Royal College of Art, and Ars Electronica. She holds over a dozen patents. Bdeir is a Board member of the Fund for Public Schools, a non-profit partner to the Department of Education dedicated to raising funds and developing pilot programs for New York City Public Schools.

Bdeir received her Masters of Science in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab and has taught graduate classes at NYU and Parsons. Prior to MIT, she earned degrees in Computer and Communications Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut.

Born in Montreal and raised in Beirut, Bdeir lives and works in New York.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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