Charles Chiau – Robotics Engineer

Berkeley, CA

I want to spend my life using robotic technology to explore and share that experience with our next generation to enable them to dream of what we haven’t thought about yet.

chiau.charles1Who are you?

I am mash between a FOB and an ABC, simply because I’ve moved between the US and Taiwan multiple times, and have grown up under heavy influences of both worlds. While growing up, I spent seven years in Philadelphia, six years in Taiwan, came back to the US for high school, college and now have a career in undersea robotics. My family has always been in Taiwan, and moving around by myself has allowed me to see the world from a pure trial and error point of view, while learning how to make decisions, becoming independent, and trying to figure out a purpose for life. I belong in both Taiwanese and American cultures, but at the same time I feel I don’t belong in either. Because I float around, I’ve met a lot of people and by living through their experiences it has made me aware of how incredibly different the world is; that “who we are” is simply defined by our own definitions of success and the drive to achieve that success.

My passion, simply put, is developing robotic technologies that help people. My purpose is to leave some kind of legacy in technology that will enable us to do greater things while providing an infrastructure to help the next generation of engineers. Lastly, I want to make sure that, with the benefits of technology, we as people don’t lose what makes us human. We must remind ourselves that life is full of people, emotions, joy, fun, and good times. Play hard, and don’t work so much.

What do you do?

I build stuff, whether it flies, drives, goes in and out of the water, walks, you name it. I’ve worked on DARPA military projects involving building robot suits similar to Robocop or mech warrior; built autonomous cars that race themselves; built the three luxury submarines that are out there on yachts of Tom Perkins and Richard Branson. I’ve also built three unmanned submarines for UC Berkeley with a Navy contract.

However, the true goal behind all this is so I can gain experience and knowledge in the field of engineering to mentor the next generation. I also am out to break the stereotypes of “the engineer.” Just because I’m a geek doesn’t mean I’m boring.

I’m outgoing, and I love random activities. I was part of a hip hop dance crew, I fly radio controlled aircraft, and I love the water, going clubbing, and being a counselor for summer camps. I believe that I can make a difference with robotics, and at the same time, I want to spend my life using robotic technology to explore and share that experience with our next generation to enable them to dream of what we haven’t thought about yet. I hope to provide the tools for them to accomplish that when their time has come.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 1st generation, strictly speaking, since I was born in Taiwan. This is what I remember and cherish about being Taiwanese: There’s this bond we develop in school due to its system. Forty of us are stuck in one room, for two or three years depending on grade level. Everyone grows up together in a tight knit group working toward a common goal, and it’s something that I haven’t experienced here in the States. Every time I go back to Taiwan, the greatest memories are awakened by the purity of friendship. It’s the environment, it’s depicted in film, and it’s a common connection that is understood but can’t be put in words. It’s simply that experience during my elementary and middle school years that reminds me of how beautiful life and people are –a very pure kind of love that even after 10 years hasn’t changed one bit. It’s something I cannot replace nor wish to trade with anything in my life. It’s the stories and memories that make me proud.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I just wanted to say, I’m very proud of what has accomplished as well as all the affiliate organizations. It brings me closer to home.


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