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The Amplifier - official newsletter of Robogals
Volume 3 :: Issue 2 :: 7 February 2012

Robogals founder Marita Cheng named
Young Australian of the Year

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has named Robogals founder Marita Cheng as Young Australian of the Year for 2012. The award was presented on the eve of Australia Day on the steps of Parliament House in Canberra.

In Marita's acceptance speech, she put the national spotlight on the gender imbalance in engineering, saying, "Less than 10% of engineers in Australia are women, and only 14% of engineering students are female."

The award highlights the importance of addressing diversity in the engineering profession and the shortage of engineers in Australia generally. Marita stressed the need to engage children with robotics programmes from a young age, so that they will "not just be consumers of technology, but also creators of technology".

Marita also noted the invaluable contributions of the volunteers in the organisation, saying, "I would like to acknowledge all the people who have made Robogals what it is today because we could only have achieved this with all of us working together."

The Young Australian of the Year award recognises a young person between the ages of 16 and 30 who has demonstrated remarkable achievement, made a significant contribution to Australia, and is an inspirational role model to the Australian community. It is awarded together with its sister awards, Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, and Australia's Local Hero in a live-to-air television event on the eve of Australia Day to an audience of over one million people. Past recipients have included solo round-the-world sailor Jessica Watson (2011), Make Poverty History concert organiser Hugh Evans (2004), champion Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe (2000), and Emotiv CEO Tan Le (1998).

Among the recipients of the 2012 Australian of the Year Awards are Murrunga Island elder Laurie Baymarrwangga (Senior Australian of the Year), NSW foster parent Lynne Sawyers (Australias Local Hero), and Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush (Australian of the Year).

Marita intends to leverage her award to promote women in engineering, as well as the need to address the engineer shortage in Australia across both genders, and to encourage Australian innovation and entrepreneurship.


Robogals London at the
European Robotics Festival 2011

Written by Mariza de Souza, Vice-President, Robogals London

On the 10th and 11th of December last year, Robogals London ran a hugely successful and exciting event as part of the European Robotics Festival. The event took place at the Science Museum, next door to the Imperial College London campus where Robogals London is based, one of the most popular museums in central London.

As part of the robotics festival, we ran nine 40 minute workshops over the whole weekend. In each workshop we took six groups, usually made up of one or two families, and gave them a pre-built and pre-programmed castor robot along with a kit of LEGO Mindstorm NXT 2.0. Their task was to use our building instructions to transform these ordinary robots into sumo robots that would compete in a sumo competition at the end of the workshop. The aim of the workshops was to inspire children to realise that engineering and science could be much more fun than what they would normally expect.

Once the teams had built the basic sumo robot structure, they also had the chance to customise their robots with extra LEGO parts, stickers and coloured cards. We had lots of great designs and some very fearsome looking robots!

We had a great range of people attending the workshops, from very young toddlers right up to adults, and each one of them glowed with enthusiasm. The workshops were extremely popular, and we had lots of parents expressing their wishes that we would be at the Science Museum the following weekend too! In total, around 200 people attended our workshops, which we are very pleased to have achieved.

At the end of each workshop we had two three-way sumo battles, and one final battle between the heat winners to determine the overall winner. We awarded each of the winning children with a prize of their very own toy robot, and they were all very excited to have a photo of themselves with their prize up on the wall of winners that we had displayed throughout the weekend.

It was a really fun weekend for everyone involved, and we hope to have many more collaborations between Robogals and the Science Museum in the future. A massive thank you to all of our hardworking members that helped prepare for the day and helped out at the workshops.

Volunteer Profile

Nadia Eisenlohr
Perth, Australia

What do you study?

Mechanical Engineering

Why Engineering?

I have always enjoyed being creative and making things. But at the same time I find math and physics really interesting as well. Engineering seems to be quite a good merger between the two, so its pretty much a perfect match for me.

What have you done with Robogals?

Well I only recently joined Robogals, so I have only been to a training session and a couple of school visits.

What was the biggest highlight?

It would be when we went for a school visit. The kids were definitely enjoying themselves while they were playing with the robots. Helping them out and watching all the stuff they came up with for the robots to do really made my day.

What are your dreams and goals for the future?

Well finishing university for a start, then hopefully doing engineering design work. My family is from Germany so I would love to go live and work there for a bit. I would also love to do some more travelling, especially around Europe.

What are your hobbies outside study and Robogals?

I have recently taken up running, and love going out with my dog for a run. He is the best exercise buddy. However my biggest time consumer (outside university work of course) is my sewing hobby. I love designing and sewing my own clothes. I also enjoy cooking and cycling.

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The Amplifier
The Amplifier is the official newsletter of Robogals, collating articles written by our chapters all around the world for the benefit of Robogals members, supporting faculty, partners, sponsors and anyone else interested in following our activities.

Editor: David Lee

Postal Address:
Robogals Global
PO Box 4435
Parkville VIC 3052

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