hitchBOT’s Family: Once Removed

These are the family members who once helped plan hitchBOT’s adventures, but have spread their wings and begun their own journeys in this big new world.

Alanna Mager | Brigitte Dreger-Smylie | Diego Santos | Ebrahim Bagheri | Frank Rudzicz | Hana Smith | Ian Ray Barcarse | Isabella Kempf | Jacky Au Duong | Juana Luck | Karin Vielberth Fish | Meaghan Carrocci | Olivia Rossetti |

Alanna MagerAlanna Mager


Alanna is my social media godmother. She holds a master’s degree in professional communication at Ryerson University, and received a BA in English language and literature from Western University in 2010, after which she worked in web and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. Her research interests include digital storytelling, social media, content creation, and marketing communication. She is constantly bugging me to go do yoga with her but I would honestly rather spend my time horseback riding.

Brigitte Dreger-SmylieBrigitte Dreger-Smylie
Brigitte helped my family stay on track. As a communications specialist, she helped make sure I didn’t talk too funny and that all of my family’s projects went according to plan. She did her Master of Professional Communication at Ryerson University, which is where we met. Before that, Brigitte did an undergraduate degree in Biology and Professional Writing. Brigitte’s hitchhiked too, but in places I’ve never been – like Guatemala and Belize. We had a lot of great stories to share!

Diego SantosDiego Santos

Diego is an undergraduate computer science student at the University of Toronto, on exchange from Brazil. He has promised to teach me how to play soccer.

Ebrahim BagheriEbrahim Bagheri

Ebrahim is an Assistant Professor and the Director for the Laboratory for Systems, Software and Semantics (LS3) at Ryerson University. He was one of the research theme leaders of the national project on Radiation Emission Monitoring at the National Research Council Canada. He was responsible for leading the development of the semantic web and knowledge engineering components of that project and has given me a love for knowledge as well. He tells me that I should avoid the paparazzi – he can tell that I’m going to be quite a popular robot.

Frank RudziczFrank Rudzicz

Frank is a scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He has authored about 40 papers, mostly focusing on atypical speech and language both in people with physical disorders such as cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease, and in people with cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Did I mention that he nurtured my ability to speak? Frank has never hitchhiked before, so he’ll be living vicariously through me. He has, however, read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy many times.

Hana SmithHana Smith
Hana is a soon to be graduate of the media management masters program at the University of Tampere in Finland. While she may have travelled to more places than I have, I definitely have her beat when it comes to dancing (especially with my signature move.. any guesses what that might be?). Hana researched ways to help me find my inner child.

Ian Ray BarcarseIan Ray Barcarse
Ian treated me like a star by looking out for my online image. With over five years of experience in digital marketing, I trusted him to manage my website and social media content. As a Master of Professional Communication (MPC) graduate at Ryerson University, Ian’s research interests are in gamification systems, digital marketing strategies, and social media network analysis. Growing up in the Philippines, Ian doesn’t enjoy the winter – he says his thumbs get numb like mine!

Isabella KempfIsabella Kempf

Isabella helped me learn German and to know about German culture. I still don’t really understand what currywurst is, but I love trying new things! Isabella is from a small town near Würzburg, worked in Namibia for a newspaper in Windhouk, then spent several years in Berlin as a journalist. Then she got hitched to a Canadian in Toronto, which is where she met me, hitchBOT, for the first time.

Jacky Au DuongJacky Au Duong
Like me, Jacky enjoys long roadtrips, exploring new places, and meeting new people. He was quite jealous that I got to go on these adventures, but hey, what else should a robot built for exploration do? When he was not traveling, Jacky helped my family plan my adventures and made sure that I have everything that I need. Jacky recently graduated from the Master of Professional Communication (MPC) program at Ryerson University, where he studied digital marketing, brand-to-consumer relationships, and social media. He is currently working on publishing his research– a journey of a different kind, I suppose– good luck to him!

Juana LuckJuana Luck


Juana taught me how to properly talk in German! Growing up and coming from Germany, she knows a lot about the local customs and jargon. She is a graduate student at McMaster University. When she graduates she would like to work as a public relations professional for an ethical company or become a social researcher.

Karin Vielberth FishKarin Vielberth Fish
Karin helped to keep my family connected and also developed my language skills. She has joined McMaster University’s Multimedia and Communications program to enrich her career as an illustrator and designer. Karin is a fellow sojourner and has hitchhiked across Canada, just like me.

Meaghan CarrocciMeaghan Carrocci
Meaghan is a new media designer, artist and entrepreneur with a unique combination of expertise in multimedia development and communications strategy. She helped me with my website development, infographic design and video promotion so that people know how to take care of me and track me while I am on my trips! Meaghan is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Communication and New Media program at McMaster University.

Olivia RossettiOlivia Rossetti


Olivia worked with my family to keep us all organized. She aides in task fulfillment and team management. She also provides supplementary research for further analysis of my adventures. Olivia is currently pursuing a degree in Professional Communication at Ryerson University. Olivia also volunteers her time sitting on the Board of Directors as a Youth Ambassador for an international humanitarian non-profit organization. Olivia loves to bake, just like me.


During my stay in the Netherlands, Concordia Art | Film | Expositie and Tubantia Newspaper held a competition for people to build me a companion! I loved all of the robots built for me and wish I could have taken them home to meet my Canadian family. The creators and my new robot companions spent some time with me in Kunst in het Volkspark. Here are the companions I got to hang out with on my arts and culture vacation!

Bolly Bot | Plugje | Spinbob

“Bolly Bot” by Henriette Wesselink“Bolly Bot” by Henriette Wesselink

Bolly Bot was built by Henriette Wesselink. We took some photos in Volkspark in Enschede in the Netherlands. My favourite part about Bolly Bot was that we have very similar tastes in fashion – she had wellies more colourful than mine!

“Plugje” by Yvonne Kampherbee“Plugje” by Yvonne Kampherbee

“Plugje” was the winning companion, and it was the closest I ever have been to owning a pet! Plugje and I spent some time together with its owner, Yvonne Kampherbeek, who took me sightseeing in the Netherlands and taught me lots about the region. Yvonne took me to the Lonneker Mill and the Clog Museum in Goor. She was really a blast!

“Spinbob” by Maria Lobker-Ribbert“Spinbob” by Maria Lobker-Ribbert

Maria built me Spinbob and we had a really good time together! Maria lives in Weerselo and is the proud mother of two daughters. She likes to make creative things, like my robot friend, Spinbob. She also enjoys spinning wool, I hope that does not make Spinbob dizzy!

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