Wednesday, 12 September 2018 11:57

Indigenous student from Papunya gets ACS tech scholarship

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Matthew Heffernan: "I’m looking at developing an Indigenous gamification application, showcasing a bit of my culture through this application," Matthew Heffernan: "I’m looking at developing an Indigenous gamification application, showcasing a bit of my culture through this application," Supplied

The Australian Computer Society has awarded its ACS Charles Darwin University Indigenous information technology scholarship to Matthew Heffernan, a student from Papunya, about 240 km northwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

The scholarship was launched at Uluru last week.

Heffernan told the Mundine Means Business program on Sky News: "Higher education can be a bit intimidating because there’s so many costs involved – like fees and textbooks.

"Something like the ACS scholarship makes it a little bit easier and a little bit less intimidating.

"It’s not only the financial element though, this scholarship allows me to meet more people and find out what’s going on in the larger world of IT.”

Heffernan said he wanted to use technology to enable others to engage with their cultural identity.

“I’m looking at developing an Indigenous gamification application, showcasing a bit of my culture through this application," he said.

"What I’m hoping to do is use the education that I’ve received through CDU to promote STEM subjects to Indigenous young people. When you’re in remote areas it’s harder to see the payoff of mathematics and science and technology.

"Computers and applications are a really tangible and visceral way of seeing the culmination of science and technology in one package.”

ACS president Yohan Ramasundara outlined the aim of the scholarship when it was launched.

“The purpose of this initiative is to showcase Indigenous achievement in Information Technology with a view towards inspiring other indigenous students into tech careers," he said.

"There are some really exciting Indigenous companies delivering technology-related products and services, and we really wanted to do our part in contributing to growing the ecosystem, and enabling Indigenous talent to take their skills, products and services to a global market."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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