Trailblazing builder and activist-educator Emily Pilloton-Lam is transforming STEM education and the trades with her innovative nonprofit Girls Garage, a radical design and construction school for youth. Trained in architecture and construction, she has taught thousands of young girls and gender-expansive youth how to use power tools, weld, and build full-scale architectural projects for their communities. Her vision and leadership provides youth the opportunities to create tangible impact in their lives.
“When girls have the tools to literally build the world they want to see, our world will shift toward a more equitable and just place—a world built by women is a world built for everyone.”
Working from the ground up, Emily co-designs architecture projects alongside her students, including a public farmers market, middle school greenhouse and library, chicken “pavilion” for an urban farm, and furniture and a playhouse for multiple homeless shelters. Viewing power tools as a personal power, she seeks to change the authorship of our built environment and cultivate power for those in need, specifically young girls, undocumented youth, and communities of color.
With an educational philosophy rooted in social and spatial justice, gender and racial equity, and project-based learning, Emily also works with educators, nonprofits, and companies to reinvent lifelong learning and creative practices in more hands-on and community-focused ways. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of California Berkeley, and a Master of Fine Arts in Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Emily is currently a Lecturer in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California Berkeley, and is the author of three books including Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See; Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People; and Tell Them I Built This: Transforming Schools, Communities, and Lives With Design-Based Education.
Her work is documented in the full-length documentary If You Build It, and has been featured at TED, in The New York Times, The Today Show, TIME Magazine, CNN, and presented to the Obama Administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House.
Keywords: STEM, Women, Innovation, Design, Architecture, Education, Environmental Design, Social Justice, Racial Equity, Collaboration, Leadership, Diversity, Trends, Non-profit, Author