What is 30under30?
30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. Since this year saw more outstanding entries than ever before, we thought we would highlight some of the bright and innovative nominees who just missed Top 30 by a wink. Behold, our 2011 30under30 Honourable Mentions! More.
Marita Cheng, VIC (b. 1989)
Name: Marita Cheng
Age: 22 (Born: March 1989)
If the proposition “A robot in every home” sounds like a fantasy, a touch dystopian even, then you haven’t met Marita Cheng, Mechatronics Engineering student at Melbourne University and founder of Robogals.
At 22 years old and already a two-time 30under30 winner, Cheng has had no trouble attracting publicity to her cause: encouraging girls to pursue careers in engineering and robotics, fields in which the girls are outnumbered ten to one by the boys.
The Robogals network now includes over a hundred volunteers who teach and involve girls in robotics lessons. There are 17 chapters of the not-for-profit organisation operating in six countries.
This year, Cheng was awarded a Churchill Fellowship, which will allow her to travel to five countries — including Germany, the UK and the USA — to study strategies to engage more schoolgirls in science.
Cheng calls the opportunity “a dream come true.”
“It’s the ultimate case of working ‘on’ and not ‘in’ the organisation,” she says. “I am sure this will result in an unprecedented standard in Robogals’ work.”
And that’s to say nothing of her work as a co-founder of Nudge, a company that sells medication reminders at pharmacies, which has already won business awards in the UK and Sweden.
As she finishes her studies and works on Robogals, Cheng is cautious about doing too much at once. Yet she has said that a third business, her own robotics company, is in the works.
“I think robots are the next transition in the fast, convenient and easy nature that is our society,” she says, “and they will play an ever more prominent role in the next 10 years.”
If she gets her way, women will be doing a lot more to guide those robots along.
Anthill asks: Marita Cheng, what’s your superpower?
“The ability to visualise the future that I want to create and all the elements that make it up. I spend a lot of time visualising what I want to happen so that it works on a visceral level before I do the hard work of actually making it happen – it saves me a lot of time!”
Robogals Sydney Promotional Video
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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.