Poco-Intro: Akbar Dhanaliwala

If my name were a symbol. Eat your heart out Prince.

Hi I’m Akbar. Pronounced uck(like duck)-brr(like, “i’m freezing”).

Growing up in New Jersey, going to school in upstate New York, working in Connecticut after that, I dreamt my whole life of moving out to California. Partly I wanted to move to California to finally escape the Northeast winters, but the bigger reason was because I wanted to go to Silicon Valley, to be in the heart of what I thought was the best of American innovation.

Northeast Winters. At least how I remember them now.

About five years ago I decided to go for it. I packed up my car, said bye to my friends and family, and drove out to California.

Me in the badlands driving out to California. I was so inspired by the landscape that I fashioned my haircut after it. Not really.
Me in the badlands driving out to California. I was so inspired by the landscape that I fashioned my haircut after it. Not really.

Ok, I had made it to California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. And it was everything I had always imagined it would be like. The people here were smart, dedicated, innovative. But most importantly, I was surrounded by people, who, when you told them an idea, tried to think of ways to make the idea better, instead of immediately assuming it could never work and shooting it down. However, after a year in engineering graduate school I was stuck. I knew I wanted to be entrepreneurial, to be a part of something new and exciting. But I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had taken a lot of engineering classes, some more interesting, some less. I was in the design program, and I really enjoyed it, unfortunately I still hadn’t found the thing that I was truly passionate about…yet. Some people (me) say luck is just opportunity presenting itself to people who are prepared. I suppose it was luck then that helped me to find what it was that would eventually lead to Pocobor.

The beginning of my second year of grad school found me trying to figure out what classes I wanted to take for the year. There was a series of classes called Smart Product Design* (basically a series in mechatronics), that a few of my friends had taken the year before, and they all said how amazing a program it was. So I decided to take them. The class opened my eyes to the world of mechatronics. It showed me how creative a field it is, and that in the not too distant future all products will be smart products, and that mechatronics will be one of the bases for all design. In any case, after finishing a very intense year of classes, I knew, with no uncertainty, that mechatronics is what I was passionate about and that in some form or another, this is what I wanted to do. With the help of Brian who I had met during the series (as well as the Jo(h)n’s) and was just as passionate as me about what mechatronics meant to the future of design, we decided to form Pocobor.

What does mechatronics mean to me? It means bringing crazy wacky ideas like robots that clean your floor while you’re at work, or solar panels that follow the sun like some kind of cyborg flower to life. It means blending the best of mechanical engineering with electronics and computer software. It means thinking that anything is possible. And that makes me really excited.

Floor cleaning robot? Check.

*Smart Product Design is listed as ME218A,B,C,D at Stanford and is taught by Professor Ed Carryer, an amazing teacher.

Be Sociable, Share!