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Inaugural awards ceremony recognises achievements of people with Autism

Media release

Curtin University recently hosted the inaugural Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA) Awards, recognising the special talents and dedication of young people on the Autism Spectrum.

Attended by Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson Governor of Western Australia and AASQA Patron; Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry; former Chief Scientist of Western Australia and current AASQA Ambassador Lyn Beazley; members of the Perth business community; family and friends. In total, 35 students were recognised with awards across four categories.

Curtin University’s Dr Tele Tan, founder and Director of AASQA, said it was wonderful to see so many students acknowledged for their achievements in the first year the Academy has been operating.

“It has been fantastic to see our students challenged, engaged, dedicated and interested in the IT discipline area over the past year, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their contributions to science and engineering continue in the years to come,” Dr Tan said.

Among this year’s award recipients is year eight student Sam Bateman. With a passion for electronics and an interest in challenges and problem solving, Sam has thrived in the CoderDojo program that is part of the CoderDojo WA initiative. Supported by the Fogarty Foundation, CoderDojo seeks to enable the next generation of coders.

Through his participation in CoderDojo and AASQA, Sam has expressed an interest in pursuing a career in engineering.

“Sam has been involved in the AASQA program since early last year and it has been an honour and privilege to engage with him and encourage him to pursue engineering in tertiary education,” Dr Tan said.

Sam, along with 13 other CoderDojo students, known as ‘ninjas,’ were recognised for their passion and course attendance at the awards night, as well as special acknowledgements given to their mentors.

Nine students received AASQA Department of Training and Workforce Development (WA) Scholarships, each consisting of $5,000 that can be put towards the payment of TAFE tuition fees for either a Certificate IV or Diploma course in an IT-related field.

Eight students received AASQA Australian Computer Society Foundation scholarships, made possible through donations from sponsors Bankwest, the WA Department of Transport and Deloitte. The scholarships provide work integrated learning internship opportunities in the ICT sector for people with autism.

Five students were recognised for passing an international exam for software testers, offered through the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB). The students spent months studying for the foundation level exam and verification via an e-learning platform donated by industry partner and software quality assurance leader Planit.

AASQA provides high-level expertise and services in assessment, training, education and work placements for individuals with Autism in the software testing industry. More information about the program can be found at http://research.curtin.edu.au/institutes-centres/autism/

Listen to an interview with AASQA award winner Meagan Allen-Kingdon – ABC South West and Great Southern WA, interview with AASQA Award winner Meagan Allen-Kingdon conducted by Christine Layton, Morning Presenter. 26 July 2017.