Warren Faulkner has been named the winner of the 2020 Australian Computer Society’s indigenous IT student scholarship.

In its second year, the ACS scholarship supports and showcases Indigenous achievement in Information Technology studies.

Faulkner began his Bachelor of Information Technology course at Charles Darwin University in July 2017 with the goal of obtaining tertiary recognition for his tech industry experience acquired over the last twenty-four years.

“I believe I can apply these skills towards completing a successful career within the IT industry and benefiting my current, future employers, indigenous organisations and my indigenous heritage,” Faulkner said on winning the scholarship.

Faulkner served in the Royal Australian Navy as a Signals Communications Sailor for eight years between 1987 and 1995, a role that introduced him to working on various forms of communications systems.

“Morse code became a second language at the time,” Faulkner said. “The Navy, particularly life at sea, was a hard-working environment. It builds loyalty and trust values in your friends and ship-mates. The travel involved with the Navy, sailing to distant and exotic countries was an added perk in a dynamic job.”

Faulkner is presently employed with the Department of the Environment and Energy as a manager within the Platform Services - Wintel Engineering team of the organisation’s IT Branch.

Before commencing his current role, Faulkner spent 22 years with the Australian Taxation Office in IT roles including Infrastructure Provisioning, Web Hosting, and Desktop Packaging.

“All this led from starting out as an IT Officer within the Networks section of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 1996, which is still my fondest memory,” Falkner said.

Prior to starting his university studies, Falkner completed a sixty-week Web Design and Development diploma with Careers Australia in June 2017, which introduced him to database-driven websites.

ACS President Yohan Ramasundara congratulated Faulkner.

“Warren is a worthy winner of the scholarship and follows on from the success of the last year’s inaugural winner, Matthew Heffernan.

“The scholarship is promoting the value and diversity to the IT sector and the skills indigenous staff bring to technology businesses.”

NT Minister for Corporate and Information Services Lauren Moss said the award aims to “encourage more young Territorians to think about a career in ICT and helps to build our digital capabilities as technology drives innovation, enables new services and transforms the ways we learn and work.”

“With the digital age well and truly upon us, it is critical that we are developing a skilled digital workforce in the Territory,” she said.

“I wish Warren all the best with his future studies and look forward to hearing more about his progress and news of future recipients of the ACS scholarships.”

Charles Darwin University’s Professor Suresh Thennadil, Chair of IT in the College of Engineering IT and the Environment, praised this year’s recipient.

“Warren Faulkner is diligent in his studies and is a dedicated student. In addition to helping with reducing financial burden, we believe that this scholarship will provide further motivation for him to continue to excel in his studies and develop into an outstanding Information Technologist.”

Last year’s inaugural winner of the scholarship was Matthew Heffernan, a computer science student from Papunya, a community 240 km northwest of Alice Springs.

Heffernan said the scholarship was a valuable aid to his studies.

“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.”

At the launch of the scholarship at Uluru last year, ACS President Yohan Ramasundara outlined the aim of the grant, saying the purpose of the initiative was to showcase Indigenous achievement in Information Technologly, 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 want to do our part in contributing to growing the ecosystem, enabling indigenous talent to take their skills, products and services to a global market.”