Gitanjali Rao: The 15-Year-Old Engineer Using Tech To Change Lives

This content requires cookies to view

Accept All Cookies

Open Cookie Preferences

TIME Magazine’s first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’, Gitanjali Rao, is on a mission to create a global community of young innovators.

At just 15 years old, Gitanjali has already invented an impressive number of life-changing tools. From a portable device that speeds up the process of lead detection in drinking water to an early prescription opioid addiction diagnosis tool, Gitanjali is no stranger to using science and engineering for global good.

In this episode of Create the Future, we speak to Gitanjali about the origins of her passion for STEM and discuss her ongoing mission to inspire others worldwide – she’s already mentored an incredible 40,000 students! We explore the engineering behind her innovations, find out where she draws her inspiration, and hear why baking is an essential tool for any engineer.

About the guest

Gitanjali Rao is an inventor, author, scientist, engineer, and STEM promoter. She is a three-time TEDx speaker, has featured in Forbes’ ’30 Under 30’ list, and has made appearances on both ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ and ‘The The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’. As a result of her lead detection device ‘Tethys’, she won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Paradigm Challenge, and was recognised as America’s Top Young Scientist, receiving the Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Award. In 2020 she was named as TIME Magazine’s first ‘Kid of the Year’ and featured on the cover of the December issue.

Episode highlights

  • “I like to say that I'm working towards the bigger goal of creating an innovation movement.”
  • “I always look for ways to solve problems using science and technology, but at the same time, I spread awareness on these problems that I'm solving. I like to say that both science and awareness go hand in hand.”
  • “My uncle got me this science kit which I used every single day. But soon, I started combining not only just doing the experiments in the kit, but combining those concepts for kindness - to create positive change in the world. And that's exactly where I am today.”
  • “My parents have absolutely been one of my biggest role models since day one. Since they've allowed me to really explore my passions beyond what was given front of me.”
  • “I heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan in the US about five or six years ago, and it was just so appalling to see how many kids my age were drinking a poison every single day. I actually went about looking for ways to solve that and my approach was creating a lead detection tool.”
  • “I tend to get inspired by the world around me, whether that's on the news, or in magazines. […] I'm also spending tonnes of time on technology reviews, and my social media feed is filled with tech. All that allows me to really expand beyond what school teaches me.”
  • “My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to be a scientist or engineer is first dream big and then think back to reality. There are a lot of times I face self doubt and told myself to stop, but if I did, then I wouldn't be at the position I’m at today. And we're kids. So, we have that time to dream big. So, continue to do that, dream of whatever job you want in the world, whatever occupation you want to pursue, or whatever you want to pursue and make that happen.”

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The Create the Future Podcast is available to listen on: