In summary

  • Swinburne has recognised some of its most impressive alumni at the inaugural Alumni Impact Awards 
  • Andrew-James Williams-Tchen won George and Ethel Social Impact Award
  • Gabrielle and Christopher Tyler received the Innovative Planet Impact Award
  • Tristan Sternson took home the Technology Impact Award

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:

Technology Impact Award Winner.

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:

George and Ethel Swinburne Social Impact Award Winner.

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:

Innovative Planet Impact Award Winner.

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. 

Dr. Gráinne Oates (Alumni Impact Awards 2022)

Erwin Estigarribia 

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.

Erwin Estigarribia (Alumni Impact Awards 2022)

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.  

Ts. Dr. Hj. Muhammad Khusairy Bin Bakri (Alumni Impact Awards 2022)

Peter Murray

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. 

Peter Murray (Alumni Impact Awards 2022)

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.  

Sosina Wogayehu OAM (Alumni Impact Awards 2022)

Jen Sharpe 

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. 

Jen Sharpe

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