Ten days with "like-minded" teens at the National Computer Science School has affirmed Zac Bower's passion for information and communications technology.
The St Mary's College student recently returned from the University of Sydney where he learnt new skills, problem-solved, worked in teams on projects, and heard from industry leaders about potential careers.
Zac is in his final year of schooling and plans to study software engineering or computer science at university.
He was drawn to computers from a young age and has excelled in Information and Software Technology and Grok Learning challenges.
His interest in cyber security was sparked during the university program when he heard from an industry leader about the growing need for skills in the sector.
"It seems cool and fun and I definitely like a challenge," Zac said.
Zac said St Mary's teacher Suzanne Feodoroff had been "very encouraging" and had been urging him to apply for the summer school a few years before he could. He was aided by The Rotary Club of Gunnedah Rotary Club and The Rotary Club of Gunnedah 2380.
Ms Feodoroff said the program was a good opportunity for Zac to "undertake authentic real world projects that required a digital technologies solution".
She also participated in the program, working on a small embedded project with two other teachers.
"For teachers, it is an opportunity to observe 120 gifted and talented students fully engaging in the program and learning and developing sophisticated solutions using digital technologies," she said.
"We also had the opportunity to engage with several key figures who have been involved in the development and implementation of the new digital technologies curriculum."
It was the second time Ms Feodoroff had taken part and it was actually her first experience that inspired her to introduce robotics at St Mary's.
"This year, I am implementing robotics and other interactive electronic projects into the stage five elective Information and Software Technology using the Micro:Bits," she said.
"For me, it has been such valuable professional development and worth spending 10 days out of my holiday leave."