From programming Australia’s first supercomputer to Emeritus Professor, meet ACS Fellow, Jenny Edwards FACS CP. 

8th February 2021

Highlights

  • Emeritus Professor Jenny Edwards FACS CP is an ACS Fellow.
  • Jenny has followed her passion in technology, working with her first computer, a Silliac (which was the size of a double decker bus and programmed using paper tape!), to working as a Research Fellow in the IBN research labs in the USA.
  • She been a member of the ACS for 48 years and supports the community through her work as an ACS Accreditation Case Manager. 

1. Tell us about yourself?

When I was about 9, my father took us to an Open Day at the University of Sydney. I won a game of noughts and crosses against Silliac, their first computer.  Unusually for my school, about the same time, there was a piece of graffiti on my desk,  eip = -1. I was intrigued by this and vowed I would discover how this could be.

I did a Science degree at the University of Sydney, planning to specialise in Maths. I joined the Maths Society. They offered a one-week holiday course in programming the University’s second computer, a KDF9. I was hooked and went on to Honours, a Masters and PhD in computing. Along the way, I programmed the final concert of my first computer, Silliac. I pursued my interest in mathematics by using computers to solve problems, principally algorithms known as Mathematical programming from the science of Operations Research.

I was very lucky that my PhD supervisor was Professor John Bennett, a founder of the ACS. He had worked with Alan Turing in Manchester and with other pioneers in computing. He invited many of these experts to Australia. I was privileged to meet some of these inspirational scientists and fifty years on am still friends with some, now in their 90s. John encouraged me to undertake consulting with industry to apply my research which gradually moved to high performance computing.

During my postgraduate studies, I discovered I really enjoyed teaching. In 1976, I joined the School of Computing Sciences at what became UTS and rose to be a Professor. Over the years, I presented at international conferences, where I met more experts, worked at London School of Economics, was appointed Senior Visiting Research Fellow at IBM research labs in the USA where I had access to early multi processor and distributed computers, and worked in a high performance computing centre in Barcelona. My greatest joy in academia was people – my fellow staff and particularly my students, especially my many postgraduate students.  Seeing them progress their careers was extremely satisfying. I retired in 2018 with the award of Emeritus Professor. I am now quite busy working with the ACS and TEQSA on the accreditation of IT courses.

2. What was it like to be awarded as a Fellow at ACS? What advice would you give to other members who aspire to becoming an ACS Fellow?

Becoming a Fellow is a recognition that the contributions you make through your work are valued and over and above what might be expected.  I always find that doing what I am interested in and trying to do it well is always more than repaid by all sorts of unexpected opportunities and awards - being awarded a Fellow is just one of them.

3. What advice would you give to women interested in growing their career in emerging technologies?

  • Follow your passion – you can’t excel in a job you don’t enjoy
  • Read extensively, stay up to date by whatever means possible, cultivate experts
  • If you think you’re right, stick to your views and argue succinctly and coherently for them

4. ACS has released An Introduction To Diversity And Inclusion and Implementing Diversity And Inclusion - A Reference Guide. What advice would you give to workplaces to embrace diversity and inclusion?

  • Hire the best person for the job, ideally by using anonymous applications.
  • Provide genuine support to all in your workforce, be they staff with family responsibilities, people with disabilities or people with temporary problems. You will be rewarded with a happy workforce, loyalty and hard work.

 


Nominate for an ACS Fellowship!

Have you made a distinguished contribution to our ICT community? 

The award of Fellow is the highest honour that ACS bestows, and is widely recognised across our industry. As the professional body for ICT in Australia, we pride ourselves on awarding those who have made a notable and positive influence within ICT and who have gone above and beyond normal expectations. 

For more details or to nominate, please visit here.