Tessa Lau got into construction because she was looking to start another robotics company. She witnessed the inefficiency and dependency on skilled manual labor endemic to the construction industry. She knew there would be opportunities to introduce robotic automation to improve the industry.

“I am drawn to fields where my work can have an impact,” Lau said. “I love problem-solving. It’s why I studied computer science originally. I got into robotics when I realized that computer software is limited to displaying bits on a screen, whereas robots can move atoms around in the world.

“When I got into construction five years ago, it was for the same reasons,” she added. “Construction is the largest industry on the planet. Every single day, people touch and use products of the construction industry. The roof over your head, the hospital that cares for you and your loved ones, the data center that sends that TikTok video to your phone — those are all products of the construction industry. I love the opportunity to help build the robots that build the world.”

Dusty Robotics is on a mission to improve the construction industry’s efficiency by developing innovative products that challenge the status quo. One area of the status quo is layout — where the digital model is transferred out to the field so that builders know what to build where. Lau saw an opportunity to increase the efficiency and accuracy of the layout process significantly, which results in less risk for builders and faster project completion.

The construction industry is still filled with inefficient tasks that are done by a limited number of skilled workers, Lau said. She said that when she sets foot on a construction site, she sees a different workflow that would be improved by robotic automation. Robot-powered tools will enable the modern construction workforce to do their jobs more efficiently, with higher accuracy and more safety.

“I belong to a group of female construction tech CEOs who meet regularly for dinner to share stories and advice with each other,” Lau said. “I am beyond grateful that, even in a male-dominated field, there are several women who are killing it in this industry and that I can count them as my friends.”

So why aren’t there more women in the construction field? Lau said she hasn’t gotten any pushback from the industry despite being a female of Asian descent making inroads. One of the things she loves about construction is that it’s full of very pragmatic people. If the product works, they don’t care how you look or where you come from, she said. The construction industry is all about solving problems and getting things done. The construction field is open for business, and it’s open for women who are interested in solving complex problems.

“I love features like this one that celebrate successful women in construction because having more role models will pave the way for more women to enter the industry,” Lau said. “One of the reasons I love robotics is because it evens the playing field. When you’re operating a robot on a construction site, it no longer matters if you’re the strongest or the most dexterous or the tallest person on the site. Robotic tools give everyone an equal chance at completing the same job. I see automation as eventually creating as many opportunities for women in construction as men have today because women can operate robots just as well as men can.”

Lau said the adoption of robotics is changing how work is done on a job site. With robots doing the manual labor, the responsibility of construction workers becomes more about directing the robots to do the right jobs at the right time while collaborating with each other to solve problems. That shift will naturally attract more women to the industry because they will see it as more of an equal playing field for their talents, versus a place where they just need to be stronger and louder to be successful.

“One of the best pieces of advice I heard in grad school was to follow your passion,” Lau said. “My passion led me to software automation, robotics, construction, and now growing and leading a company. If you default to doing what you find interesting and are passionate about, you will build a career you inherently love. Right now, I have the best job in the world, doing everything I love. I could do that because I followed my passion, and it brought me here.”