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Stephanie Santoso is the White House’s first senior adviser for making.

Stephanie Santoso

White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy

Stephanie Santoso was plucked from Cornell University, where she was doing her doctorate in information science, to become the White House’s first senior adviser for making, a job that allows her to figure out how design and technology can help solve serious problems. From 3-D printing to sewing to wearable technology, Santoso sees business, health and education opportunities.

She has built hardware into clothing with sensors that can collect biometric data like heart rate, and she was heavily involved in the White House’s recent demo day, where two makers developed an interactive teddy bear designed to help kids with diabetes take care of themselves.

“When you’re a physical maker, it’s really easy to understand why this is important from a number of different fronts, whether you’re thinking from an education perspective or the impact it has on small entrepreneurship,” said Santoso, who came to her current job through an internship.

The Virginia Beach, Virginia, native may be best known for building robotic versions of Sunny and Bo, President Barack Obama’s dogs, last holiday season.

“The amazing thing about this administration is the president embraces science and technology in so many different ways within the grounds of the White House,” she said.

Other side projects Santoso is working on include building her own wedding dress, which she’s doing with her mother.

“It’s partially to save money, but also just because it’s so fun,” she said with a laugh.

Corinne Lestch