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Nurturing young networks

By Kristie Kellahan

A dedicated coach guides telecommunications students to the top, writes Kristie Kellahan. 

Two TAFE NSW telecommunications students recently beat their peers from around Australia and the world to win a trip to the US to meet the chief executive officer of Cisco Systems.

The students, Elise Marrot and Rajeev Khettry from TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute's (SWSi) Lidcombe College, finished in the top two of the international 2012 Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders - Asia Pacific region competition. Representing Australia against 17 other countries, they showcased their expertise in challenges that tested their skills and knowledge of practical and theoretical networking.

Coached and mentored by TAFE teacher Mohan Vuppalapati, the competitors undertook a theoretical exam and were given a broken network topology scenario to test their practical skills.

They scored higher than top-performing teams from universities including RMIT. "Elise and Rajeev are both great students and their diligence and enthusiasm for their industry has helped them," Vuppalapati says.

The competing teams of students are enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy program via partner schools.

The Networking Academy is a partnership between Cisco, education, business, government and community organisations around the world, aimed at nurturing the development of information-technology professionals. SWSi's Lidcombe College is a Cisco Regional Networking Academy across IT and telecommunications engineering.

SWSi's Lidcombe telecommunications department teaches public students, Optus engineering cadets, VoIP trainees and RailCorp apprentices.

Vuppalapati, an information and communications technology teacher, has led Lidcombe teams to national victory three times in the annual Cisco competition. The subjects he teaches - IP networking, VoIP, routing, switching and network security - were integral components of the competition.

"I put the students through intensive sessions with 'hands-on' laboratory work, including configuration, testing and troubleshooting on up-to-date Cisco equipment," he says.

Vuppalapati says teachers can participate in the Cisco instructor training program held at various training centres around the country.

Teachers can then encourage, educate and inspire students to step up to an international level of IT performance. "You'll need enthusiasm for the topic, extensive vocational experience and certification, all combined with the empathy and insight to actively engage with young people," Vuppalapati says.

The NetRiders prize is an all-expenses-paid study trip to Silicon Valley and San Francisco in the US to meet the chief executive of Cisco Systems, John Chambers.

Year 10 teachers
Number employed in year to August 2012: 20,785
Growth in past 10 years: 20.1%
Average weekly wage (full time): $1448
Average weekly wage (full time all occupations): $1144
Full time: 71.6%
Average weekly hours full time: 41.8
Unemployment: Low

Published: 17 November 2012

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