Squishy Circuits Website


AnnMarie is an engineering professor who spends her time trying to encourage the next generation of makers and engineers.


AnnMarie joined the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in the fall of 2006.  Previously, she was a faculty member at Art Center College of Design.  She is the director of the UST Design laboratory and leads a team of students looking at both the playful side of engineering (squishy circuits for students, the science of circus, toy design) and ways to use engineering design to help others.  Dr. Thomas, co-founded, and co-directs, the University of St. Thomas Center for Pre-Collegiate Engineering Education (CPCEE).  Through this center, AnnMarie develops and teaches engineering courses for P-12 educators, and conducts research on engineering at the pre-collegiate level.

AnnMarie teaches Engineering Graphics, Machine Design, Dynamics (with Circus Lab), Toy Design, Product Design for an Aging Population, and Brain Machine Interfaces (seminar).  She organizes the School of Engineering Design Night (featuring the ENGR320 Machine Design competition), and the Design Discussions seminar series.

AnnMarie served as the Founding Executive Director of the Maker Education Initiative where she worked to establish the national Maker Corps program, and lay the groundwork for this nonprofit which has as its mission creating " create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and learning as a whole."

AnnMarie has also worked on underwater robotics (at MIT, Caltech, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), specializing in biologically inspired propulsion.  She has consulted on projects ranging from the design/creation of a "musical earthquake-playing robot" to the initial research for a book on earthquakes in Los Angeles.  At Caltech, she founded the Caltech Robotics Outreach Group (CROG) and the Caltech/JPL/LEGO Middle School Robotics Conference.


Ph.D. California Institute of Technology,
Mechanical Engineering (2006)

M.S. California Institute of Technology,
Mechanical Engineering (2002)

S.B. M.I.T.,Ocean Engineering
with a minor in Music (2001)

Professional Certificate. MCAD,
Sustainable Design (2013)


 TEDxTC talk on Making Makers (2011)

TED U talk on Squishy Circuits (2011)

 ASEE North Midwest Section Outstanding Educator of the Year (2010)

ID Magazine Annual Design Review "Design Distinction" (2009) 

National Academy of Engineering CASEE New Faculty Fellow (2008)

P.E.O. National Scholar Award (2005-2006)

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2001-2004)

Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Undergraduate Honor Paper Prize (2001)

Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Undergraduate Scholarship (2001)