Matthew Heffernan is the inaugural winner of the ACS CDU Indigenous Information Technology Scholarship.

Launched last week at Ayers Rock/Uluru with Warren Mundine AO and Chanston Paech MLA, the scholarship supports CDU students who demonstrate a passion for information technology and who are engaging in ongoing tertiary study in the field.

Speaking on Mundine Means Business on the Sky News network, Heffernan outlined what the scholarship meant to him.

“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 with more people and find out what’s going on in the larger world of IT.”

With indigenous ancestry from Papunya, Heffernan wants to use technology to help others engage with their cultural identity and see tangible benefits to technology.

“I’m looking at developing an indigenous gamification application, showcasing a bit of my culture through this application. 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 Ramsundara outlined the aim of the scholarship when it was launched in Uluru late last week.

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