Marita Cheng, 27, wanted to inspire girls to pursue the field of engineering and technology. Hence, at the age of 19, she started the non-profit robotics organization, Robogals. Her company has since expanded to include 50,000 engineers across nine countries. She has even gone onto develop a number of exclusive robotic products and applications to help people in various ways.
Marita Cheng Bio
Cheng grew up in a housing commission home. She stayed there with her mother and brother until she moved to study mechatronics and computer science at the University of Melbourne. When she began her term at Harvard, it really dawned on her that there are only a handful of girls who studied with her, as opposed to the sea of guys.
“By the end of my first semester, I realized there were five girls in my degree out of 50 total. It was my second year at university when I decided to do something about it and start Robogals,” she recalled, Asia Society reported. Her company aims to eliminate the notion that engineering is a “dirty” job that is unfit for girls. Instead, it looks to educate women on the impact they can have by investing their talents in this stream.
Cheng’s startup company, 2Mar Robotics came up with smartphone-controlled robotic arms that can help physically disabled people. Another startup of hers, Aipoly invented an AI technology that can help the blind walk around safely. However, she wanted to develop something that everyone can use. Back in October 2016, Cheng began working on a telepresence robot that can be manipulated remotely by people, letting one be at two places at once.
Teleport: The Ultimate Mobility-Enhancing Robot
The robot has been completed and named Teleport. It uses a technology called MindWave, a brain control interface that lets one direct the robot by blinking towards a specific direction. The robot, has a long, upright, tubular structure. A touchscreen tablet, cameras and android phone can be attached at the top. By means of these devices, a user can see and talk free through the robot, wherever it goes.
It is a device that lets people with diseases like agoraphobia to virtually experience the outside world. Since, one can be both inside and outside, in a way, it lets one be at two places at the same time. “It gives you much more freedom and mobility, it makes you feel like you are there,” Cheng Told Brisbane Times. Cheng wants young children suffering from chronic diseases like cancer to use the device. This way, they can attend school under circumstances where they are forced to be confined in hospital beds.
Cheng was named Young Australian of the Year in 2012. Last year, in October, she received an honoree at Asia Society’s Asia Game Changer awards. Cheng vows to continue pushing the message she believes in. “I think that the conversation around engineering needs to change to one where female engineers, or all engineers, talk about how our job makes a difference,” she said.