Ana Julia de Carvalho

Maceio, Brazil

Ana Julia  de Carvalho

Ana Julia is from the city of Maceio in the northeast of Brazil. Considered by some to be the least developed region of the country, people from this area face discrimination and are the victims of stereotypes. However, as a young student, Ana Julia never let herself be affected by these ideas, even if others did.

At age 13, she co-founded her school’s first FIRST LEGO League robotics competition team. It took only two years for them to win the 1st Place Champions in the regional stage and go forward to the national stage, where, as an act of protest against the stereotypes about northeastern Brazil, her team decided to dress up as “Cangaceiros” (important influences in the local culture). Proud of their culture, they also proved their intelligence and ability, being awarded the 10th best overall team in Brazil as well as the 1st Place in Research Process.

On their return to Maceio, all the students gathered to congratulate them with music, food, and confetti. They appeared on TV and were even presented to the Governor. Their success had opened people’s minds about the region's true potential, and Ana Julia learned the value and the importance of celebrating her roots.

However, this was just the beginning. A range of schools in the city then began to pursue robotics classes too: hundreds of students subscribed for the next year's selection, and several other robotics teams were founded.

Due to the demand, Ana created a 100-page programming guide for new students looking to compete in robotics competitions, explaining all the innovations she had created or used. This made a big difference to a lot of students. At the international stage in the US, Ana Julia’s team was awarded 3rd Place Overall Core Values – an unpreceded award for a Brazilian team – highlighting their skills in teamwork and leadership among students from five continents. The team has also gone on to further success, competing again in Uruguay the following year.

Ana Julia has also been innovative in other areas. In 2016, she co-created the Sustainable Aerator, a mechanism to increase milk production in subsistence areas of developing countries by oxygenating the water of livestock with wind energy. With this project, she was selected for the National Robotics Exhibition (MNR). In 2017, she co-created the pH2O, an alkalizing tablet to improve the health of impoverished communities. This was followed in 2018 by TEEF, a sustainable roof produced with affordable reused berglass and tires. Other innovations have included a portable solar inductor charger and a mechanical disinfection system for COVID-19 that uses no electrical energy.

If Ana Julia won the Global Student Prize, she would invest in developing and testing her Sustainable Aerator invention, develop an app to connect young leaders, and fund further study in the US – where she would have more opportunities to be involved in entrepreneurship.