Young Achiever: Naoka Gunawardena
Family: Father, Ananda; mother, Sriya; sister, Naomi
School: She is a junior at The Ellis School in Shadyside.
Noteworthy: She was one of 10 national winners of the Dean's List award at FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Robotics Competition Championship in April in St. Louis. Naoka is a three-year member of Girls of Steel, a robotics team that won the engineering inspiration award at the regional competition to go on to the competition in St. Louis. The students had six weeks to design a robot that could shoot frisbees into goals and climb a pyramid. Naoka worked in the machine shop and helped with fundraising for the team.
Hobbies/interests: In addition to robotics, Gunawardena also enjoys singing. She is a Glee Club member and has performed in musicals.
Quote: “It was so humbling to see that there are so many other students who are passionate about robotics. I felt grateful I was recognized.”
— Margaret Harding