Marita Cheng | 2014 Recipient

The below text was prepared by Airbus. To access the original text, please click here (external link).

Airbus, the leading aircraft manufacturer, and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC), the leading international organization for engineering education, announced Marita Cheng as the recipient of the 2014 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award at the World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) in Dubai on 3rd December 2014. She receives 10 000 USD to support and develop her work in this field.

Marita Cheng, from Australia, is the founder of Robogals Global, an initiative designed to inspire girls aged 10-14 to choose engineering and technical careers, and to create a global community of engineering students committed to the cause of greater diversity. Through a varied program of workshops, training, student challenges, a Robogal Ambassador program and a dedicated outreach program for rural and regional areas, Robogals has so far reached over 20,000 girls worldwide, utilizing a largely volunteer workforce of university students. In six years, it has grown from a single university chapter to an international organization.

The world needs more engineers. Airbus and the GEDC believe that people from every background should have the opportunity to play their part in our shared future. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the engineering industry reflects the diversity of the communities it supports. Initiatives like this Award signal Airbus and the GEDC’s strong commitment to achieving a truly diverse global engineering talent pipeline.

 Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering (c) Airbus[/caption]

Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering led the evaluation committee, said, “At Airbus, we are constantly looking for new ways to innovate. That means building more diverse teams, for higher performance and an inclusive culture that builds on everyone’s strengths. Our 2014 Award recipient not only impressed us with her initiative, but also inspired us with her understanding that the best way to increase diversity is by creating a clear roadmap for others to follow.”

The three 2014 finalists were selected from over 20 candidates from 12 countries. This prestigious award is given to individuals who have been proactive in bringing more diversity into engineering schools and universities. It rewards initiatives around the world which encourage young people of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.

The finalists presented their ideas before a distinguished evaluation committee at the World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) in Dubai earlier this week. John Beynon, (Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide and Chair of the GEDC), Rana El Chemaitelly (Founder, The Little Engineer) Prof. R Natarajan (Former Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education, and former Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras) and Dr. Khairiyah Mohd-Yusof (Director, Centre of Engineering Education, Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia) joined Charles Champion on the Committee. Their selection criteria focused on the measurable success of the initiative, the transferability of the idea and the potential to inspire others.

“All three of our finalists are to be congratulated for the real difference that they have made,” said John Beynon, chairman of the GEDC. “Their achievements are testimony to their hard work and commitment. Now we hope that engineering leaders from around the world will be inspired to follow their example, and replicate their initiatives in order to build a more diverse global community of engineers.”

Airbus and the Global Engineering Deans Council deliver the 2014 Award for Diversity in Engineering Education. Charles ChampionThe 2014 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award Finalists

Marita Cheng, founder of Robogals Global, Australia - selected for her initiative designed to inspire girls aged 10-14 to choose engineering and technical careers, and to create a global community of enigineering students committed to the cause of greater diversity.

Bryan Hill, Assistant Dean at the University of Arkansas College of Engineering, USA - chosen as a finalist for his work leading initiatives to recruit and retain underrepresented engineering students through the Engineering Career Awareness Program (ECAP) at the University of Arkansas. Between 2007-2014, minority enrollment in engineering programs at the University of Arkansas by more than 190% with a 150% rise in female undergraduates.

Bevlee Watford, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of CEED at Virgina Tech, USA - selected for her wide-ranging programs aimed at building an inclusive and diverse engineering student body at Virgina Tech, and now used as a model for institutions throughout the USA. Over 10,000 engineering students, many of them from underrepresented groups have been supported and mentored through the CEED since its inception in 1992.

The 2014 Evaluation Committee
  • Charles Champion - Executive Vice President Engineering
  • John Beynon - Executive Dean at the University of Adelaide and Chair of the GEDC (2013-2015)
  • Rana El Chemaitelly - Founder, the Little Engineer
  • R. Natarajan - Former Chairman, All India Council for Techincal Education and former Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
  • Khairiyah Mohd-Yusof - Director of the Centre of Engineering Education at the Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia