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Gongs ring in Oz tech sector

Geeks make the Order of Australia

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The father of 802.11a wireless chipsets, Dr David Skellern, is one of a bunch of tech-sector luminaries to be gonged in the Australia Day honours list.

The researcher and later NICTA CEO (from 2005 to 2011) was awarded a Fellow Officer of the Order of Australia. He was awarded for his efforts in science, engineering and research. He has been heavily involved in ICT education and research, in 1989 taking up the Chair of Electronics at Macquarie University.

His most coveted achievement however was his role in the Radiata group of companies in Australia and the USA, which he co-founded in 1997 to commercialise the results of a WLAN research project that he led at Macquarie University, in collaboration with CSIRO. In September 2000 Radiata demonstrated the world’s first chip-set implementation of the 54 Mbit/s IEEE 802.11a High-Speed WLAN standard and in 2001 Radiata was acquired by Cisco Systems for $AU565 million.

In other honours, entrepreneur and founder of online accommodation site Wotif.com Graeme Wood received a Member of the Order (AM) of Australia. Aside from his dotcom success he was also honoured for his philanthropic work through the Graeme Wood Foundation.

The foundation supports the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at The University of Queensland and programs promoting the creative potential of young people in the performing arts.

Also awarded as an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to business and IT was former IBM Australian-New Zealand managing director Glen Boreham. Boreham is currently the chairman of the government’s convergence review committee.

In 2008, Boreham was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Screen Australia and is the Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for the University of Technology, Sydney. He also works with the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner as a member of the Male Champions of Change group of CEOs seeking to promote the increased participation of women in the workforce.

Young Australian of the Year for 2012, Marita Cheng, received her award for encouraging girls to study engineering and technology subjects. Her Robogals International organisation ran workshops for 3,000 high school girls in Australia, teaching science and technology to attendees. The operation also has branches in New Zealand and the UK. ®

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