Mehaa Raja Amirthalingam stands smiling at the camera. She has long black hair and is wearing a turquoise blouse with embroidered flowers on the shoulder.

Mehaa Raja Amirthalingam: Student and innovator

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Mehaa Raja Amirthalingam to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.  

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Mehaa Raja Amirthalingam: After hearing about the Cape Town water crisis, I realized that water scarcity is a serious issue. To address this, I have invented a dual water toilet flushing system, which will save more than 25% of total water used in homes and commercial buildings.  

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

MA: When my product achieved 100% freshwater savings through an accidental discovery during my experiments, I knew immediately that my innovation would make a huge impact on our efforts for water conservation.  

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

MA: In spite of using a strong glue to create my product,  it failed when it was exposed to water. So, I had to come up with a new design that was very secure and durable in the environment my product would be in.  Several water scientists guided me on how I should approach the problem, and finally I achieved an amazing product.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

MA: The progress I make every day in my work itself is a great inspiration. In addition, when I imagine the faces of the people who will benefit from my work, I am further motivated to think and work hard.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

MA: Every one of us has the potential to help solve several large-scale issues in the world. There were many times I experienced self-doubt while working on my project. When you have the right attitude to make changes in the world, there are people that will help you along the way.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

MA: Since there is so much male dominance in STEM-related work, women need to be more involved in this. We have been put aside for too long, preventing many women from taking on STEM fields. Even the women that are in STEM fields face much discrimination, and the only way to counteract this issue is to remain bold, and know that the work that they are doing is important to many people’s problems around the world. Female representation in innovation is so important, especially with numerous issues rising. We can take our creativity and determination and help tackle these issues alongside other men and women.  

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.