Melbourne School of Engineering student Marita Cheng has been named Young Australian of the Year.
Marita is the founder of Robogals, an organisation dedicated to encouraging girls to pursue careers in engineering and technology. Marita’s passion for enthusing secondary school girls to undertake engineering through fun and engaging workshops and activities, has seen Robogals grow to 17 branches spanning Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The program has also recently been adopted by four US colleges and branches of Robogals will open at Caltech, Stanford, Columbia University and the University of Arizona.
Marita’s career path includes studying for a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Computer Science as the inaugural recipient of a Paterson Scholarship. She has been a recipient of the Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship, an International Youth Foundation Youth Action Net Fellowship and an Anita Borg Change Agent Award. She has appeared as a panelist on ABC TV’s New Inventors and aims to become the founder of a robotics company, creating robots that will perform everyday, mundane tasks. Marita is an inspiring role model for young women, who are considering a career in engineering and technology.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be named the Young Australian of the Year for 2012. When I started Robogals, I was focused on working towards increasing awareness among girls about engineering careers. But my message goes deeper than that; it says to girls you are allowed to follow and achieve your dreams and in a country such as Australia, it is possible,” she said.
Acting Dean of the Melbourne School of Engineering, Professor Peter Scales is delighted that Marita had placed the spotlight on girls and careers.
“The University of Melbourne congratulates Marita on being the Young Australian of the Year and for being an inspiration to young women everywhere. She has boundless energy and is helping to give Australia the next generation of Engineers,” Professor Scales said.
In the media:
“Tremendous privilege, says a champion of engineering”, Carolyn Webb, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Jan, 2012.
“Young Australian of the Year honour for Cairns girl Marita Cheng”, Laura Packham, Cairns Post, 26 Jan, 2012.
“Young Australian of the Year – Marita Cheng”, ABC online, 25 Jan 2012.
“Female engineer wins Young Aussie award”, Katina Curtis, Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 25, 2012.