2012 Young Australian of the Year

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Marita Cheng, an advocate for Women in Engineering has Won the Young Australian of the Year Award for 2012.
While still a university student, Marita Cheng has demonstrated vision and leadership well beyond her years and is dedicated to encouraging young women to become interested in a career in engineering.

Marita Cheng & Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard(left) presents 2012 Young Australian of the Year, Marita Cheng(right) with Award

Marita founded Robogals Global in 2008, as a response to the traditionally low levels of participation by women in engineering and technology. Robogals uses LEGO Mindstorms based activities to teach schoolgirls about engineering and the difference engineers have made to our lives. Robogals has run robotics workshops for 3,000 girls across 80 schools in Australia, with 17 chapters across Australia. Robogals has also gone global with Chapters in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

In Robogals robotics workshops, the girls construct and program LEGO NXT robotics kits. The lessons have been designed to engage students in a range of engineering topics in a way that is both fun and creative. The workshops include an introduction to the different areas of engineering, and how engineers impact our daily lives.

The workshops are free of charge for all schools, and are run by University student volunteers who are motivated only by their passion for engineering.

Robogals was founded as a student club at the University of Melbourne in July 2008 as a result of conversations between Robogals founder Marita Cheng, and Head of Electrical Engineering, A/Prof. Jamie Evans. Initially it was to run a LEGO robotics competition for girls schools around Melbourne area as a means to increase interest in engineering. All teams would be supported with training in the lead-up to the competition in a similar manor to the ‘FIRST LEGO League‘ competition in Australia.

Marita’s career path includes studying for a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Computer Science on a Paterson Scholarship. Marita has a Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship, an International Youth Foundation YouthActionNet Fellowship, and an Anita Borg Change Agent Award. Marita plans to start a robotics company, creating robots that will take care of many everyday and mundane tasks. Already she has changed the way that girls view their capacity to contribute to engineering and technology.


Speaking requests for Marita Cheng: mark@robogals.org


Robogals Primary sponsor:

mta beck-eng



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