Technology is constantly evolving, and teenager and coder from Peel, Joshua Bishop, is charting his own course into the future.

Joshua was one of three ‘ninjas’ with autism to pass the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) certification program earlier this month.

This internationally recognized certification is commonly attempted by adults after earning a degree in computer science or cybersecurity.

Joshua is part of the Mandurah CoderDojo group which meets every Saturday at Mandurah Catholic College. This group is specifically for autistic and neurodivergent teens in Peel Region who are interested in coding, programming and technology.

The group operates under Curtin University’s Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA), led by Professor Tele Tan, with support from Mandurah Catholic College which allows the group to use the school’s library.

The CoderDojo is free for participants, referred to as “ninjas”, and is led by Michelle Wong and a group of committed mentors who support ninjas with their tech projects every week. Technical equipment is donated by supporters such as Deloittes, Bankwest and Mandurah City Community Grants.

Camera iconGroup photo (from left to right) Prof. Tele Tan AM, Michelle Wong, Troy Francesconi (MCC Principal), Lisa Munday MLA, Jan (mentor), Prof. Lyn Beazley AO (front row), Joshua, Aaron and Tom Credit: Provided

Joshua showed interest in software testing and honed his skills with three months of mentor-supported training at Curtin before successfully completing ISTQB certification.

He is the first Mandurah ninja to complete this advanced assessment, paving the way for younger participants. He was joined by Perth ninjas Tom and Aaron, who are also part of the AASQA program.

This certification can be used by Joshua to support pathways into higher education or directly into industry.

Ms Wong said the program was a great alternative route.

“It’s fantastic to facilitate this program in Mandurah, providing an alternative learning pathway for neurodivergent teens as well as an opportunity to come together weekly and socialize,” she said.

When asked where he would go from here, Joshua said: “I’m keeping my options open and will decide the next step under Tele’s guidance.”

Former WA Chief Scientist and Mandurah resident, Professor Lyn Beazley, is an ambassador for the AASQA program and regularly visits the group. She said the neurodivergent community has made invaluable contributions to the field of science and technology.

Dawesville MP Lisa Munday, who has two adult sons with autism, is also a volunteer mentor.

More information about the Mandurah CoderDojo can be found at michellewongofficial.com.au

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