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  • Woke editors

Macinley Butson is an inspiration to young women everywhere

Macinley Butson is an inspiration to young women everywhere, especially in the STEM field. She’s invented something that could potentially save many lives. We asked her to tell us a bit about herself and her work...

Macinley Butson was awarded 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year and she is the first Australian to win 1st place in Translational Medicine at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair when she was just 16.

I am Macinley Butson - an 18-year-old inventor from Wollongong, NSW. I would probably describe myself as a creative inventor because although I haven’t finished university, I have followed my passion in STEM, performing research projects for as long as I can remember.

I was always a curious child who would persistently annoy my parents with the most powerful question a child can ask. Why? I was eager to learn the secrets of the world so I would explore endlessly and when I couldn’t find the answer, I endeavoured to discover it myself.

As I grew so too did the complexity and length of these “projects” with their focus being how I could use my passion to help others.

The idea for my most well-known invention started as a conversation over the dinner table with my father. My father works in the field of Radiation Therapy Cancer Treatment and one night, was outlining some of the concerns and challenges they face. I decided that what I heard wasn’t fair and decided to tackle the challenge – inventing the SMART Armour which stands for Scale Maille Armour for Radiation Therapy. It is a shield which can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast whilst undergoing radiotherapy treatment. One major side effect of treatment is known as electron contamination which often contributes to skin burning and also increases the risk of developing another secondary cancer later in life. The SMART Armour is able to reduce the dose to the non-treated breast by up to 80% or to levels which are recommended as safe, in turn improving patient’s outcome and potentially saving lives.

Macinley Butson and her world awarded invention the SMART Armour, a shield to be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast whilst undergoing radiotherapy treatment.

For this device, and some of my other works, I have been honoured to be named as the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year, 2019 InStyle Woman of Style and to receive awards such as 1st Place in Translational Medical Science at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I have also performed research into the efficiency of solar panels, water filtration for developing communities, protecting seedlings without harmful pesticides as well as the efficient delivery of medicine for children.

We also asked her to tell us her motivations and tips to young women wanting to break in the STEM field.

If all of these projects have had a common thread, it would be a fuel of passion and curiosity combined with a calling to help others. I have always been motivated to make a difference, and I believe everyone also has this calling in their life if nothing else. Whether this is done through art, teaching or, like myself, science, everyone can make a difference and a contribution. This is what has been my inspiration and is why I continue to research and invent.

On my journey, being a woman in the male dominated field of STEM has been a challenge but it has also been one of the greatest assets. We as women are able to think a little differently, bringing a unique perspective and working together in the industry with these different viewpoints is where we often see the greatest advancement. For other young girls interested in STEM, as cliché as it may sound you must believe in yourself, accepting and learning from failures and continuing on. I understand how intimidating it can sometimes be to be the only woman in a room but in that space regardless of gender, everyone shares a passion for curiosity and STEM.

As Albert Einstein wrote, “I am nothing special, I am only passionately curious.”. If you are fuelled by a passionate curiosity, then this will take you places you can only imagine! You should never stop learning so pursue your passion no matter what it may be.


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