You may have heard of 25-year-old Marita Cheng before. In 2012 she was named Young Australian of the Year and winner of the Financial Review-Westpac Group 100 Women of influence award.
However, this isn’t why we are writing about her today. Marita Cheng has just taken out the prestigious Global Engineering Deans Council Diversity award, sponsored by Airbus.
The World Engineering Education Forum was held in Dubai, where Ms Cheng was recognised for her development of and commitment to Robogals.
Robogals is a not-for-profit group that aims to inspire girls to choose engineering and technical careers such as IT.
The Robogals program now runs out of five Australian Universities including the University of Queensland, the University of New South Wales, Adelaide University, the University of Western Australia and Melbourne University. Some universities in the UK have also taken on the program from when Ms Cheng spent time on exchange there. The program now has 4000 volunteers who visit schools and other universities promoting robotics.
As well as setting up this program Ms Cheng has set up her own company making wheelchair-mounted robotic arms for people with limited upper limb mobility.
Ms Cheng won a $10,000 cheque and was closely followed by Bryan Hill, 34 and Bevlee Watford, 56 both from the US.
Across the world, gender diversity in engineering has gone from less than ten percent 30-years-ago, to between 15 and 20 percent today.
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