Why I joined the TechCongress Team: Jamie Sternlicht

I entered college knowing that I would become an engineer. Despite being involved in my high schools student government, the last government class I would take would be my senior year before college.

I majored in Mechanical Engineering, and would go on to join my schools Autonomous Systems Lab, completing my Masters by rehabilitating and programming a robotic arm. Ultimately, I would join a robotics company based out of New York, working on semi-autonomous systems for the utility industry. As a project manager, I would bring together mechanical, electrical and software engineers to create solutions for our clients; solutions which were cost effective, eco-friendly and minimized disruption to the public.

With my last company, there were times where government helped and times where government hindered our ability to innovate. Seeing this first hand, it wasn’t surprising to me when earlier this month The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine came out with a report saying that overly risk averse FAA regulations are stifling innovation in the drone industry.

TechCongress’ Congressional Innovation Fellowship is the first program I have seen which offers technologists the invaluable opportunity to be involved in the legislative process. Technology is integral to our society. Autonomous systems are here, spanning a range of sectors; from inspection robots for the utility industry, to robotic milking systems on dairy farms, to driverless cars; which are already navigating our streets. Congress needs to be capable of not only adapting to these technological changes but inspiring them.