What Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Do-Gooders Can Learn From Robogals

Did you know What Degree? Which University? is a proud partner of Robogals UNSW? Robogals started off as a small student club at the University of Melbourne and has since expanded worldwide. Quite an achievement for a bunch of undergrads, which is why we reckon there are a few lessons to learn from the organisation.

Robogals is an international student-run organisation, which introduces young women to engineering and technology. Its mission is to increase the number of women pursuing engineering in their  tertiary studies and careers. It was founded by Melbourne University student, Marita Cheng (Young Australian of the Year—2012) and then Head of Electrical Engineering Jamie Evans in 2008 and has since expanded worldwide. Marita and Jamie started Robogals in response to the worldwide shortage of women in the engineering industry. Since its conception Robogals has succeeded in raising awareness about the issue and introducing young girls to the profession. The Robogals story is inspiring because it goes to show that no issue is so large that it can’t be rectified by small steps. So if you’re thinking of starting your own endeavour in response to an issue (even if that issue is, ‘I need to make my CV look good’), then there are a few things you can learn from Robogals.

First whatever your plan or idea, it’s always a good idea to start small. Robogals started  by running a  LEGO robotics competitions for girls schools around Melbourne. Cheng,  Evans and their crew learnt a lot from this initial endeavour. Namely, they realised it was much easier to focus on helping girls enter pre-existing LEGO competitions rather than run an entire competition themselves. Had the Robogals  gang tried to go global from the get-go, things could have proved disastrous. Starting small is the best way to tackle any goal whether it be starting a global student club or finally getting round to those study notes.

Secondly the Robogals success story teaches us to—forgive our use of a Nike slogan—just do it. When Marita realised that the number of women actively working in the engineering industry was dismally low she could have just sighed unhappily and gone about her business (awash in the despair of knowing the fairer sex was losing out, of course). But she didn’t. Instead she decided to do something about it. Now at the time, the idea of starting a student club may have seemed an  insignificant act in comparison to the worldwide issue  it was trying to abate but that didn’t get Marita down. She didn’t think, ‘there’s no point it won’t do any good’, she just went ahead and did it. If you don’t try you don’t know right? So if fear is holding you back from starting your own project, slap it aside and get hustling. You never know where it will take you. 

This brings us to our next Robogals lesson: you’re never too young to act on an idea. Marita was only an undergraduate when she decided to leave her mark on the world. Some of the best inventions (especially those churned out by Silicon Valley) were created by teenagers and young adults. So don’t let your age hold you make from doing something ambitious, right now! You don’t need a degree or to even finish high school before you start trying to make it happen, whatever 'it' is.

So to recap. The Robogals recipe for success is: take action, start small and remember you’re never too young.

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