Featured Leah La Salla Keynote Speaker CEO Founder Astral AR Technology Drones Robotics
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Texas, USA

Tags: Gravity's Exclusives / Artificial Intelligence / College & University / Diversity & Inclusion / Entrepreneurship / Future Trends / Innovation / Leadership / Science / Team Building / Technology / Virtual & Augmented Reality


Leah La Salla is the Technical Founder & CEO of Astral AR, a technology startup in Austin Texas building drones that stop bullets and save lives. As an inventor, she is best known for “hacking NASA” with a toaster (a toaster-sized neuromechanical unmanned aerial vehicle, that is!).

La Salla spent much of her free time in high school working in her aviation engineer dad’s super-precision tool-and-die machine shop in the Chicago area. As a former teenage mother on the autism spectrum, she got started in tech long before there were any initiatives trying to bring women into the field. After studying Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in college La Salla gained a decade of experience in software engineering – including five years as a Federal employee – while teaching herself to program in an additional 9 languages (becoming a polyglot software architect). Since that time, La Salla’s worked on wide range of technically unusual products including fabrication application development, industrial printing, and more conventional app development and app security. As a software architect, she’s rated in the top 10% of Stack Overflow – and she’s mentored over a hundred in women in coding as the LAMP/Js curriculum advisor for the Ada Academy.

La Salla co-founded her technology startup Astral AR in Austin, Texas with José La Placa Amigò in 2015, building the original prototype piloting system in six weeks flat and filing a patent on nine inventions (patent-pending). While serving as Chief Fundraiser, she assembled the minority-majority company team out of the personal and professional network she has built over the course of the last seventeen years. Astral AR’s motto is “Diversity, Transparency, and Saving The World”.

La Salla’s been honored with numerous awards, including the 2018 Audience Choice Award at the Women Startup Challenge at Google NYC, the 2017 Technology Award for Women To Watch In UAS, and named as a Top 25 Venture by the SheEO foundation. Most recently, La Salla and team’s technical paper on her current inventions was accepted for publication by the Institute of Electricians and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and La Salla presented it at the 2018 Global Humanitarian Technology Conference’s Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response & Recovery Session I. In addition, she was invited to speak at Harvard’s 2018 Undergraduate Women’s Intercollegiate Business Convention, where she was a Tech Panelist at the Science Center (a sweet justice, being that back in junior high she was kept out of classes on computer science and math in order to “leave room for the boys”).

La Salla’s work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNN, NBC, Tech Crunch, and others. Her public safety drone solution invention is unbiased by design, endorsed by Black Lives Matter and the Fraternal Order of Police, and a winner in the court of public opinion.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethics

In this talk, La Salla will discuss:

  • How to arrive at an unbiased design, intentionally
  • How to think around corners: envisioning what can go wrong
  • Responsible robotics: Human judgment is irreplaceable
  • What types of decision you allow your drone to make
  • AI’s level of complexity & Randomness vs. Machine Learning

Machine Learning Rapid Development

In this talk, La Salla will discuss:

  • A Machine Learning (ML) process built out of ML process: Applied science, series of tools
  • Problem-solving perspectives: Engineering rather than data science
  • Breaking problems down vs. aiming for the invincible
  • SOLID principles of development

Raising Capital From Scratch: The Song & Dance

La Salla talks about her own experience and about traversing the roads less traveled while pivoting the power dynamics.

The Laws of Social Impact Entrepreneurism

La Salla touches on…

  • Minority-majority as the new team
  • Distributed company secrets
  • Flat salary structures
  • Selecting investors & advisors
  • Human Services is the new HR


Hack Sexism: The Many Forms of Flipping Tables

Are You Really Thinking Outside of the Box?



"The 'new drone economy' is estimated to be worth billions of dollars by 2023, providing about 10% of future jobs." @shemaps & @womenanddrones created a FREE teachers guide to implement drone curriculum in schools. #blackwomendrone #blackgirlsdrone

“If we are serious about innovation, we need to fund local actors and then get out of their way.” Degan Ali, of Adeso and NEAR, at the Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference #humanitarian19

Invest in the future w @Backstage_Cap @ArlanWasHere !
Investing in the future of little girls of color everywhere, including my own.
#YesWeCan be #Changemakers

NOBLE congratulations - Rochelle Bilal Defeats Incumbent Jewell Williams, Poised To Become Philadelphia’s First Female Sheriff – CBS Philly

As both founders of @astral_ar are autistic adults, both @DonJefeOfCuba and I endorse the @NotReaching pouch

Unbiased by design. Humanitarian UAVs for uniformed first responders. Transforming safety & speed at traffic stops, during search & rescues, and for schools and other larger venues. Use cases:

Lifesaving-edge inventions for the public good - because why not?

Meet our team:

Saving lives and de-escalating tensions during traffic stops @NotReaching and Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.

Amazing and inspirational talk by @aimeevanrobot about Ethics & Robotics. More women are needed in technology and AI or we could unconsciously create gendered robots... #WISEConference2019 #genderequality #womenintech

Never Forgotten.

Last night, the names of 371 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were formally dedicated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial during the @NLEOMF 31st Annual Candlelight Vigil. #PoliceWeek2019