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

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


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?



As in our #ProjectPalladium with Core Scientific - GPUs for good! Making self-funding, unbiased bullet-stopping capacities possible for public safety at traffic stops, schools, and other large public venues. ⚡️

Situational awareness and its dynamic nature mean a constantly evolving event. Having the ability to understand the severity of those circumstances in advance of or during an emergency can mean the difference between life and death.


We'll be there!


"Changes may not go far without solving for the most critical element of new business success: access to capital.

And only one city in the U.S., (Portland) had an average higher than 25% for the representation of women on corporate boards."

Situational awareness is a human experience defined as„: knowing and understanding what is happening around you, „predicting how it will change with time, and being unified with the dynamics of your environment.

Our tools do that plus remove bias from the equation. #WIN

The children of FDNY firefighters who perished on 9/11 are blossoming into a new generation of Bravest. #neverforget

The sky is the fastest way to reach people in need, and our tech is the next level of safety & speed.

The EU Humanitarian Aid report on #UAVs (flying robots) looks at Emergency Response mapping, Situational Awareness, and Rescue. Check out their video:

Legendary @WomenandDrones @blackwomendrone @WomenInSTEAM @BlackWomenSTEM!

Congratulations to South Pacific #FlyingLabs' Amrita Lal who was named one of @WomenandDrones 'Woman to Watch' in UAS! 👏 🍾🎇 @dfat @dfat_iXc #TechForGood