On Thursday 13 October 2022, Swinburne University of Technology held its second annual Alumni Impact Awards.
The awards ceremony was held in Swinburne Studio at ACMI in Melbourne’s Fed Square, while hundreds of guests also joined from around the world.
Swinburne Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pascale Quester was on hand to address the winners, finalists, guests and many joining online from multiple countries.
“Swinburne has always been a place that has invited the curious, the creative, the innovative, and those with a drive to make a difference,” Professor Quester said.
“Since we opened our doors more than a century ago, we have been known for our deep commitment to innovative education, strong industry engagement and social inclusion.
“It is a great honour to celebrate the success of our alumni this evening and see their true global impact.”
Meet the winners
Winners were chosen by a broad selection committee assessed against a comprehensive and robust criteria. Each demonstrated their exceptional contribution to building a better world across three award categories – social, environmental and technological.
Tristan Sternson – Technology Impact Award
Tristan is CEO of ARQ Group, a digital technology solutions business, providing advisory, experience and design, and engineering and managed services, since September 2019.
In just three short years, the 2001 IT graduate has transformed ARQ Group into one of Australia’s greatest business turnaround stories, with it recently being acquired for $290 million.
Learn more about Tristan:
Andrew-James (AJ) Williams-Tchen – George and Ethel Social Impact Award
Andrew-James (AJ) is of Wiradjuri / Wotjobulak background and founded the Girraway Ganyi Consultancy, an Aboriginal-owned consultancy offering Indigenous cultural awareness and mental health first aid (MHFA) workshops and mentoring programs to schools, community groups and national and state-run organisations.
Get to know AJ:
Gabrielle and Christopher Tylor – Innovative Planet Impact Award
Gabrielle and Christopher are co-founders and Directors of exci, a commercial early bushfire detection system. exci uses proprietary artificial intelligence to detect bushfires as fast as one minute after ignition, compared to the usual detection time of 90 minutes. With exci in action, the start-up could save Australia $8.6 billion over the next 30 years in disaster response by detecting bushfires in rapid time.
Meet Gabrielle and Christopher:
The six Swinburne Alumni Impact Award finalists were:
Technology Impact Award
Dr Gráinne Oates
Dr Oates is a Swinburne business alum, educator, entrepreneur and CEO who is revolutionising education and training through a multi-award-winning gamified app called Quitch.
In 2015, while working as a Swinburne accounting lecturer, Dr Oates decided to do something about her biggest challenge: engaging and retaining distracted students struggling with their course content yet always glued to their phones. Dr Oates devised an idea to harness the very thing that was distracting her students to learn. The solution was Quitch: a gamified, mobile e-learning app that changes the way learners engage with knowledge, which had a huge impact on how her students engaged.
Erwin is the Chief Operations Officer of InterVenn Biosciences. InterVenn Biosciences is the developer of an artificial intelligence (AI) platform which detects cancer.
The company uses its AI platform to identify patient-specific cancer biomarkers and then uses those to develop liquid biopsy tests to both detect cancer and determine how well each patient will respond to available treatments.
Erwin’s aspiration about cancer and other life-ending diseases is to detect early and change the conversation from “this drug saved my life” to “this test saved my life”. He believes these diseases should be viewed as manageable conditions and not a painful losing battle.
Innovative Planet Impact Award
Ts. Dr. Hj. Muhammad Khusairy Bin Bakri
Dr Bakri, who is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington State University, is an advocate for worldwide industries to turn to bamboo-friendly products, due to concerns about increased logging activities impacting forests’ capacity to absorb carbon dioxide emissions. Dr Bakri has had his products commercialised and is considered an expert in his field, having co-authored and edited more than 150 publications.
Peter is a Ngurrara Traditional Owner from the Great Sandy Desert, and the CEO of Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation, an organisation driven to improve the lives of Aboriginal locals as well as environmental health in the Kimberly region. Through his organisation, Peter manages a team of thirteen Aboriginal rangers, who carry out conservation and land management work, keeping sites healthy through traditional methods of burning, cultural maintenance, monitoring water quality depth and more.
The George and Ethel Swinburne Social Impact Award
Sosina Wogayehu OAM
Founder and CEO of Ethio Circus Entertainment, an organisation providing training and employment opportunities for the youth of Ethiopia to protect them from homelessness and substance abuse.
Founder of communications agency Think HQ. An award-winning agency intending to harness communications as a force for positive impact. Her agency now boasts 80 staff from 14 different countries, speaking 20 different languages. Two in three of Think HQ’s staff are women.