Westpac announces seven UOW students among recipients of 2020 Young Technologists Scholarships

Seven University of Wollongong (UOW) undergraduate students are among the 36 young Australians awarded technology scholarships by Westpac Scholars Trust.

Offered in partnership with five universities across Australia, the Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship is designed to support undergraduates who are passionate about technology and exploring ways it can be used for good.

The UOW scholarship winners are Helen Soukhavong, Taylor Wood, Cheyenne Tonkins, Riley Boon, Jeffrey Siby, James Barton, and Ryan Anderson.

Computer Science student Helen Soukhavong says that understanding the changing nature of scams and frauds and how they adapt to new technology is one of her passions. She hopes one day to work in the area of cyber security.

“I love exploring the social impacts of new technologies, particularly within the field of cyber security,” Helen said.

“I hope to finish my Computer Science degree with a major in Cyber Security and be able to work in the field investigating and dealing with real-life cyber threats, scams and frauds.

“The Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship is a chance for me to connect and network with other people with similar interests from all over Australia.

“Additionally it helps take off the stress of student debts so I will be able to focus on my studies.”

Fellow scholarship winner Riley Boon (pictured above) is in the first year of a Bachelor of Computer Science – Bachelor of Laws double degree and shares an interest in cyber security.

“As far back as I can remember I have had a passion for computers. This has evolved into a love of electronics, computer science, and all things tech in general,” Riley said.

“My interest is in cyber security and networks, which I think works well with the second half of my degree, in law. My aim is to work for the AFP or ASIO in cyber security, digital forensics, or the digital flavour of counter terrorism.

“As the digital world grows around us, it is important to secure the devices we use in business and in our own homes – I am motivated by understanding how this works and how it can be improved.

“I hope the scholarship gives me the opportunity to grow outside of my work and university life and achieve goals I never thought possible. The scholarship will allow me to better equip myself for my goal of working with the AFP or ASIO.”

James Barton is studying a Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering and says his ambition is to use technology to improve lives.

“I find the use of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) fascinating and believe that it is the future of manufacturing in Australia, and across the world,” James said.

“I am also interested by the ability to reduce the risk to human life in harsh or dangerous environments using robotics more effectively.

“To me, the Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship is an opportunity to make change in the community through networks and friendships with other passionate young people.”

Taylor Wood is studying a Bachelor of Mathematics and Computer Science and says he is interested in all forms of problem solving, puzzles and systems. His goal is to work as a data analyst, software engineer or leader to design solutions to the most demanding problems of the 21st century.

“As the complexity of our society grows, so do its challenges,” Taylor said.

“Because of this, I hope that my studies combined with this scholarship give me the knowledge and skills needed to make a meaningful impact on these issues, both as a leader and as a skilled user of technology.

“Another area of technology that interests me is the ethics of biotechnology and artificial intelligence; both of which have the power to shape our world for better or worse.

“I hope to one day contribute to the implementations of these technologies in a way that dissolves our world’s disparities rather than encouraging them.”

The Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship is valued at $15,000 over three years. Beyond the financial support, the scholarship includes a Disruptive Leaders Program – a one-week residential program in Singapore in 2021. Recipients will also have access to industry and university mentors, internships, ongoing leadership development opportunities and exposure to new and diverse networks.

“The Young Technologists Scholarship goes well beyond the financial support. We are now in our fifth year and the most valued aspect of the scholarship for past recipients has been the access to new and diverse networks through the Westpac 100 Scholars Network and the broader networks of Westpac Group,” said Westpac Scholars Trust CEO Susan Bannigan.

As well as the financial investment of the scholarship, Westpac Young Technologists Scholars gain lifelong access to the Westpac 100 Scholars Network. Growing by 100 scholars a year across the Westpac Scholars Trust’s five scholarship programs, the network connects a community of people from all walks of life with the ideas and drive to help shape a better future for all Australians.

Taylor Wood, Helen Soukhavong, James Barton, Jeffrey Siby

Clockwise from top left: Taylor Wood, Helen Soukhavong, James Barton and Jeffrey Siby.

About the Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship

The Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship is offered in partnership with Queensland University of Technology, Western Sydney University, University of Wollongong, RMIT and Murdoch University. 35 undergraduate scholarships, valued at $15,000 over three years, are awarded annually to high school graduates who are passionate about technology and eager to explore its potential for good. In addition to financial support, the scholarship includes a development program, which involves mentoring, paid internships and overseas learning experience.

Words by Benjamin Long. Originally published on UOW Media Centre.