Meeting 16-year-old Vinisha Umashankar is a surprise. Given her long list of academic and scientific achievements, I expect someone bookish and serious. Instead, I find a multifaceted teenager with varied talents, interests, and wry wit. Reading vintage Nancy Drew books. Firm opinions on how lemon tea should be brewed. A passion for stargazing.Today, life has changed for Vinisha, since she became the youngest finalist for the prestigious Earthshot Prize in 2021 in the Clean Our Air category for her solar ironing cart. The Earthshot Prize has been instituted by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, to award contributions to environmental issues. I was happy that environmental innovations got global attention and could play a decisive role in reducing environmental damage and climate change. I hope that my innovation will motivate students to create products that could help protect the environment and hand it over to future generations in a healthier shape.She remembers receiving a colourful space encyclopaedia as a gift for her sixth birthday, reading it with curiosity and marvelling at the wonderful pictures of space. It turned out to be the significant moment that sparked my interest in science.But what got Vinisha started on this incredible journey of innovation and environmental conservation? In my neighbourhood, there are six ironing vendors who use charcoal to heat up a heavy, cast-iron box for pressing clothes. They usually throw the burnt charcoal away with the garbage. It made me think about the number of ironing vendors in India, the amount of charcoal burned every day, and the damage it causes to the environment. I looked for a viable solution and discovered that using solar energy could effectively replace the use of charcoal. Making use of solar energy is the primary objective of my innovation, as it eliminates the 300-year-old tradition of using charcoal to heat up the ironing box.The solar ironing cart has a solar panel, power transformer, power controller, battery, and iron box. The power from the solar panel goes through the power transformer, which steps up the voltage. The stepped-up power is then controlled and diverted to the iron box for immediate use. The unused power is stored in the battery for later use. In five hours of bright sunlight, the solar panel can charge a 100 Ah battery to full capacity. A fully charged 100 Ah battery could power a 150W iron for six hours. The ironing cart could be fitted with a coin-operated GSM PCO, USB charging points, an LED light, a fan, a speaker system, and an electronic horn, the required power for which can be drawn from the battery.After registering a trademark, securing intellectual property, and complying with the legal requirements, the solar ironing cart will be manufactured by the end of 2023 or early 2024. In the meantime, I am working on improving the solar ironing cart with a better solar panel, battery module, power transfer, and induction iron, she adds.As the youngest and only school student for The Earthshot Prize, Vinisha also earned a place to speak along with Prince William at the World Leaders' Summit at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. In the main session on Accelerating Clean Technology, Innovation, and Deployment, her five-minute speech was presented to an audience of over 3,000 people, including world leaders such as Joe Biden, President of the USA; Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK; Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia; John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC); Michael Bloomberg, Former Mayor of New York City and Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft. It garnered global appreciation after she received a standing ovation from these world leaders at the end of her speech, which has since gone viral on social media and has been watched over 30 million times.The speech she rendered is an example of articulation, confidence, composure, and fearlessness in expressing her thoughts on a world stage for protecting the environment. So much so that TIME Magazine published a feature article about the solar ironing cart and the immediate need for innovations to solve the problems of the rural economy.She also adds that the most vulnerable sector to climate change is farming. About 85 per cent of countries are highly reliant on agriculture, and they would be most affected by drastically changing weather patterns, such as extreme rainfall, floods, prolonged droughts, cyclones, and even snowfall. In Asia, many fields have been washed away and livestock has drowned. Such climate events impact food production and supply. It eventually increases food prices and affects poor people, who may not be able to afford three meals a day. Food crops such as rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, and oats dont grow above a certain temperature level. Farmers will struggle to adapt to changing climates and growing methods, explains Vinisha She believes that climate change and global warming cant be tackled by one country. It needs the consistent effort of all countries, responsible world citizens, and innovations that can put an end to products and services that damage our environment.Ask her what other inventions have inspired her and she says, Shrinking reactors make nuclear power safer, more scalable and less expensive. Thats the revelation behind the NuScale Power Module, the first and only small modular reactor (SMR) to get design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Instead of the old-style concrete-dome nuclear plant, each NuScale module has a 76-foot-tall, 15-foot-diameter cylindrical reactor and containment vessel sitting in a steel-lined, water-filled pool below ground. The small reactor automatically shuts down and self-cool in the event of a power failure, and each generates about 77 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 60,000 homes. The companys first power plant could be running by 2029 in Idaho, USA.Although she enjoys science, she is not gravitating toward specific fields to pursue in the future as yet. I still have time to understand and choose a field of science and area of specialisation. Having said that, I wish to become a scientist, invent products and help protect the environment as best as possible.Her favourite female scientist is Marie Curie. She was a pioneer in radioactivity research, receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911. Most importantly, she became a scientist against all the odds because, back in her day, girls and women were not allowed to study and many couldnt go to a college or university. Weve come a long way since then.Her message to HerCircle readers is, Believe in yourself. What other people think of you is irrelevant. No one is in charge of your future but you. The world is full of people who have gained knowledge and skills that suit them. So, learn with passion and update your strengths. Develop a unique set of skills that work for you. It is better to try and fail than just dream of achieving great things. You learn a lot by doing things. You learn even more by failing. Thats how people who became great did it.