Young Scientist Designs Brilliant Biotech Arm

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By: Amanda Froelich,

True Activist.

Inspiration to do well and utilize one’s passion for a higher purpose affects all at some level. Ambition from this inspiration can be so motivating, amazing feats can then be accomplished.

For 24 year-old Marita Cheng, the passion to help others in their unfortunate disability led to the creation of a new Biotech arm design, opportunity to inspire young female engineers, and now the prospective startup of her own company, 2Mar Robotics.

The brilliant and young computer scientist, who was awarded Young Australian of the Year in 2012, founded the international organization to get young girls interested in high tech careers. With seven years of study under her own belt and plans to graduate with a double degree in mechatronics and computer science from University of Melbourne, she’s already got plenty of opportunity offers to follow through with her plans.

With outstanding personal work ethic and dreams of her own organization, she is not interested in taking one of the hundreds of job offers, however. Instead, she has plans to throw herself full-time into 2Mar Robotics upon graduation.

Her vision is to produce a bionic arm which can be used as a daily living aid for people with limited hand movement, due to spinal injuries and disabilities such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The arm she’s designed can be mounted in multiple places around the home, including the kitchen and the bathroom.

This unique invention will positively benefit the lives of many. “I really wanted to make a robot that was useful to people and changed people’s lives and this is the way I could do it,” Cheng says.

With over 20,000 people with spinal injuries in Australia and around three million worldwide, the device will enable many currently limited and offer the ability to become more independent. “Investing in robotic devices makes sound economic sense,” Cheng continued. If the arm reduces the amount of human assistance needed to perform basic tasks, it is estimated to save thousands in carer costs.

Cheng’s first group of users will begin testing a prototype in their homes next month and she hopes to have the arm available commercially by next April. Pricing is yet to be determined but Cheng hopes to collaborate with not-for-profits which can provide grant funding to suitable recipients.

“I feel really lucky, I know what I’m doing next year… I’m looking forward to it, I can spend more time on this,” Marita shared.

The young entrepreneur cites Steve Jobs as inspiration, therefore it only makes sense striking out on her own, rather than fast tracking into an international firm, is the career move she plans on following.

Ambition to begin her own organization hasn’t stopped the many job offers from flooding in. “I got so many job offers last year, it was a real dream but I always knew I wanted to start a company,” Cheng says.

“I have energy and I like to put that energy into something… I like having a vision and making it happen in real life.”

Suggested to inspire young girls into engineering by academic Jamie Evans, Cheng eventually found Robogals in 2008. The organization, which sends students into schools to teach girls robotics, has 17 chapters in four countries and has run workshops for 11,000 girls.

Marita quickly worked her way to the head of electrical and computer systems engineering at Montash University. Evans says Cheng’s segue into the start-up world is no surprise.

“She is a quintessential entrepreneur – someone who is not interested in finding reasons that things can’t be done but rather believing that something is important and making it happen, regardless of the limited resources at her disposal,” Evan says.

“She likes to set her own agenda and, given the amazing things she has already achieved, I could not imagine her taking a graduate job in a big company. I see her as a serial entrepreneur moving from one venture to another over the years.”

The endless ways one could contribute to a more balanced and nourished world may be realized by visualizing a goal. Marita Cheng serves as an inspiration for all occupational aspirants and far-reaching entrepreneurial dreamers.



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