In summary

  • Shepparton year 12 student Rowan Farren has won a $20,000 travel voucher thanks to Swinburne University of Technology

  • He won the travel voucher by engaging with Swintopia, Swinburne's award-winning virtual Open Day experience for prospective students.

  • A computer, engineering and economics enthusiast, Rowan has been offered early acceptance to commence a Bachelor of Engineering at Swinburne in 2023.

Shepparton year 12 student Rowan Farren is looking forward to the excitement of overseas travel after being chosen as the winner of a $20,000 travel voucher thanks to Swinburne University of Technology.

The reality is still sinking in for Rowan, who has also been offered early acceptance to commence a Bachelor of Engineering at Swinburne in 2023.

“At first it felt like a prank call, it was surreal,” he said.

“I had a blank expression on my face for about two hours after I got that call.”

Rowan won the travel voucher by engaging with Swintopia, Swinburne’s  gamified virtual Open Day for prospective students.

Electrical Enginerring Deputy Department Chair Jaideep Chandran gives Swintopia travel voucher winner Rowan Farren a tour of Swinburne's Engineering facilities


Swintopia was an award-winning immersive campus experience (think the popular Animal Crossing game meets Open Day) for future students to discover what life at Swinburne is like in a fun and engaging way.

Visitors guide their own ‘SwinBot’ through the virtual campus, plan their future study pathways, hear from real students, meet academic staff and get a taste of the social life.

The platform was upgraded in 2022 to include giveaways, discounts and rewards in a mobile friendly format.

To win the travel voucher from Flight Centre, whose flagship large market corporate business FCM was recently announced as a Swinburne travel partner, players were given a series of Swintopia quests to complete within the game.

Chief Marketing Officer, Carolyn Bendall, said Swinburne leveraged its innovation and technology capability to create Swintopia and ensure prospective student engagement met modern day expectations.

“We are creating the next generation now, and a big part of that is providing an unrivalled student experience,” she said.

“We are leaders in doing things differently here at Swinburne, and that includes finding more effective ways to engage and connect with our prospective students.

“The $20,000 travel voucher reflected the feedback we were getting from students that travel was a rite of passage they’d missed out on for so long, and a valuable part of the student experience we offer here at Swinburne though our extensive overseas internship and exchange programs.”

Swintopia travel voucher winner Rowan Farren has a look around Hawthorn campus with Schools Recruitment Specialist Minura Gamage

A bright future

The prospect of overseas travel is something many school leavers would be thinking about for 2023, but Rowan’s mind is occupied for now on making the big move from Shepparton to Melbourne for his first year of university.

He has just completed VCE at Greater Shepparton Secondary College, where he found the time to serve as school captain and participate in national programs like the Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit and National Youth Science Forum, in addition to achieving impressive resulting in a score of demanding STEM subjects.

As far as the future goes, Rowan is planning to spend several years studying.

“Originally I was dead set on doing computer science, but that shifted and changed through the years when I found economics more interesting than pure computer science, but I still found engineering attractive,” he said.

“I always had this plan to mix the two in some way, so economics and engineering are the two focus areas that I thought I’d be going into.

“Whatever my bachelor ends up being, I’ll probably end up doing a PhD in economics.”

And while time is at a premium for the passionate computer whizz, he is working to start an e-commerce fitness apparel business with some friends over the summer.

It’s something he hopes to continue during his university studies.

“I also want to spend a number of years developing those businesses and refining them,” he said.

“Just going from one business to another, just being a serial entrepreneur more than anything.”

So, while finding a time to travel amongst that does seem tough, Rowan is keen to see Asia and the US.

He also has plans to travel to Japan in August, where he hopes to participate in the Pokémon card game world championships.

“Before this year, because I was busy with year 12, I played the Pokemon trading card game competitively,” he said.

“I travelled to Brisbane, Sydney, and I’m planning on going to Perth next year for the regionals, where hopefully I can qualify for worlds.”

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