Student Spotlight: International Student Creating a Future in IT

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Every so often at the Academy of Information Technology (AIT), we meet highly-passionate students who continually strive to excel. Santiago Villamil is one of them. Santiago arrived from Colombia in 2016. Determined to forge a strong future in Australia, he enrolled into AIT and pursued a Bachelor of IT (Mobile Apps).

“Mobile apps development has always fascinated me with its huge potential in the technology industry. The endless opportunities in this field is also very inspiring — the landscape is always changing and you’ll always need to keep learning in order to keep up,” Santiago says.

“Another reason why I studied Mobile Apps Development is because I really love design and this field has the best of both worlds — design and development!”

As a testament to his hard work, Santiago won the AIT Creative Minds Scholarship in February 2018. The AIT Creative Minds Scholarship was developed to recognise the hard work, passion and dedication that international students put in.

“I decided to apply to Creative Minds Scholarship as an opportunity to prove myself that nothing is impossible. If you try hard enough and set goals, you will be rewarded,”  says Santiago.

“I'm very committed and passionate about IT, and winning this scholarship certainly helped in fueling and encouraging me to keep doing my best in the following semesters,”

Though Santiago is only in his second year of the Bachelor program, he has already embarked on various projects. One notable project of his would be the User Interface (UI) assignment where he created a mobile application named “2Pet” to serve as a gateway between dog owners to find playmates or arrange dog dates.

“2Pet provides the features necessary for the interactions between dog owners, easy access to dogs’ profiles giving the relevant information about them such as their name, age, gender and a brief description. 2Pet allows dog owners to seek out playmates or dog dates easier,” Santiago explains.

 

This exercise took 4 months and gave Santiago the opportunity to develop a product from scratch — in the beginning, the drawings were done with pencil on paper. When asked about the idea and product formulation process, Santiago cited ‘user testing’ and ‘interviews’.

“The main thing I was trying to achieve was to understand the customer’s perspective and anticipate their interactions with the app,” says Santiago. “This allows me to create the best user experience,”

The road to success was not easy to navigate. Fresh out of High School in 2008, Santiago left his home country, Colombia and made the move to Australia where he took up a course in English Language.

Unfortunately not long after the big move, Santiago’s parents were unable to continue funding his studies. As a result, he had to return to Colombia. Undefeated, Santiago set out to make his trip back to Australia a reality, “I always knew that I wanted to come back to this beautiful country, to become a professional,” “To make this dream come true, my wife and I started a small business. In 2016, after a long period of time, we were finally able to return to Australia,” says Santiago.

Melbourne was Santiago’s city of choice. It was an easy decision to make, especially when the bustling city has clinched the top spot for ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ multiple times in a row. According to the Victorian Government, Melbourne has been ranked as one of the world’s top five student cities and voted the leading education destination for international students.

The future of the IT industry in Australia looks strong with its sizeable market, its innovative outlook and a varied and sophisticated customer base. These factors combine to make Australia an ideal location to develop and test new ICT products and services.

The proof is in the statistics — Victoria alone generates A$34 billion in revenue annually, with 91,300 people employed directly. Melbourne is Australia's technology hub and is home to more than half of Australia's top 20 technology companies.
When asked about his plans for the future, Santiago stated that he is ‘excited’ and more determined than ever to succeed with the help of his teachers.

He says, “I feel very grateful for having the opportunity to study at AIT. It has made me grow personally and professionally and this makes me feel confident about choosing the right degree at the right institution. The teachers at AIT have also made this a great journey where I have learned a lot and prepared me for the industry once I graduate.”

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.