This month's community spotlight features Qianya Zhao who volunteered at our most recent Makeathon event. Qianya is a student at Monash University, and is also a volunteer for the Monash Young Medtech Innovators (MYMI). She believes TOM’s Makeathon isn’t just a sprint to deliver a product, but a journey to learn from colleagues and peers, and receive mentoring and inspiration that’s unparalleled to anything else.
Image description: Head shot of Qianya smiling
How did you get involved with TOM? I am involved with TOM through my university engineering team called Monash Young Medtech Innovators (MYMI) where we were asked to volunteer at the Makeathon event. I was also invited to the Need-Knower selection panel, which was such an amazing experience, so that was my first proper involvement with TOM: Melbourne What was your experience being part of the TOM: Melbourne Makeathon? My experience as a volunteer was fantastic! The TOM team had everything sorted out logistically, so I was just an extra pair of helping hands. It was really fun talking to the different teams and Need-Knowers and I was in awe to see the Makerspace facility at Woodside Building being utilised for an event as cool as the Makeathon. Highlights include witnessing the enormous quantity of catering available, the bustling workshop space and a Need-Knower ambassador leading a stretching activity just to get everyone ready for the day. What are your top takeaways from your Makeathon experience? My top takeaway from this Makeathon event was the learning along the way. What inspired me most was how creatively diverse the teams were and how powerful it was to take an idea or thought and transform that into a tangible product or service. Not only that, the ability to personalise each product to the specific individual and their needs was amazing to see and it’s now a strong beacon for me as a student to continue to learn and think creatively, and to also support others to do the same. What’s your favourite memory from the Makeathon? Seeing the final showcase on the Sunday and hearing how grateful the Need-Knowers were was definitely my favourite memory. Hearing how thankful the Need-Knower and their families were was so heart-warming and it really hit home for me that these novel inventions - while still works in progress - already had a visible impact on the user’s day-to-day and independence. I felt proud just being involved with the event. What would you say to people thinking of participating in the next Makeathon? For those thinking of participating but are still a bit unsure, ask yourself a simple question – what is there to lose? A Makeathon event brings together people of all backgrounds and expertise and it feels even more rewarding when you can physically interact and have a laugh with the Need-Knower you’re helping. You’ll meet like-minded individuals, form friendships and even pick up a skill or two using drills, sewing machines or 3D-printing – it’s actually super exciting and not something you get to do every day.