Andrew has been a keen traveller for most of his life. At the age of 8 his mum and dad took Andrew and his sister, Debra on a 'hippie campervan' trip to Europe, taking in France, Belgium, Germany and Holland along the way. Highlights included extensive multilingual attempts to procure a new radiator cap, only to find the original was still sitting on top of the engine after hundreds of miles; watching mum do cow (milking) impressions in a store in France in order to get some milk (she had the money, just not the lingo) and Andy tripping over in a French campsite and having his bloody chin doused in something purple which the campsite owner kept in a Picalilli jar - the chin scar remains to this day.
Six years later Andy's parents arranged for him to take part in a school-arranged Mediterranean cruise on the SS Uganda (later to be used in the Falklands conflict). His first flight was from London Gatwick to Venice. From Italy the ship took its youthful inhabitants around through Turkey (Istanbul), Greece (Rhodes), Malta, Kotor (formerly Yugoslavia) and back to Italy (Naples).
Andy describes this as one of the most brilliant two weeks of his life. "We had total freedom! For instance after dropping anchor at Istanbul, the teacher told us to be back at the ship by 5pm and to look after the females. I remember walking around the Grand Bazaar with a girl on each arm, being propositioned by the local Turks to sell them (were they serious!?) and later visiting the Blue Mosque which was a very moving experience."Andrew originally developed the website AndysTechPage for his students, when he was teaching Information Technology at TAFE Tasmania (now the Tasmanian Polytechnic).
Originally training in Norwich, England as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, Andy got into computers whilst working as a Community Nurse in Sydney in 1995.
"Personal computers were really starting to impact on the workplace environment and Central Sydney Area Health Service was looking to further develop its IT infrastructure. I didn't know a huge amount about computers at the time, although I had bought myself a PC for uni in '93 (486/25MHz). I was interested in data collection and on the strength of this, was drafted into the Information Systems division.
Based at Rozelle Psychiatric Hospital, I started learning the ropes by building and repairing systems and playing with MS-DOS, Windows (3.1) and Microsoft Office (Word/Excel 6). After a year or so I became the acting Manager of Information Systems for the Mental Health division of CSAHS. I was involved in recommending and procuring equipment and developing a Wide Area Network to connect hospitals with Community Health Centres around Sydney. I had to test hundreds of systems for Y2K compliance."
However the travel bug had returned and Andy eventually left CSAHS to spend time in Greece and England. Returning to Sydney in 1999 Andy got a position as a Team Leader at Compaq Computers (now Hewlett Packard). He ran a small team which was responsible for developing and implementing an IT infrastructure for travel agencies.
"A business would purchase the whole booking/purchasing/ticketing package, which was based around Windows NT. We would build the systems at Regents Park in Sydney and then ship the gear to the travel agency for installation, which could be anywhere in Australia. We also built an internet communications system for Christmas 1999, for Australian troops serving in East Timor. The whole thing had to be able to run off a generator in a field if necessary."
Returning to Tasmania in mid-2000, Andy got the position at TAFE teaching Information Technology, whilst also working casually as an RN for the Department of Psychiatry in Launceston. After Andy's Tech Page, he developed a number of related technical websites including TheSystemMaster.com.
"This was a time for me not only to teach the trade, but also to consolidate my existing knowledge and develop into specialised areas. As well as computer hardware and Windows operating systems, I taught web design, network administration and Unix, Linux and Novell. It was a really interesting time and I made some good friends who now work in the business."
After about seven years teaching IT Andy felt he was starting to plateau and moved back to health, still with TAFE, teaching into the newly-formed Enrolled Nursing programme.
"It was a bit of a shock at first as I was back with nursing, but most of my specialist IT knowledge wasn't used. I had to 'throttle back' and help colleagues with basic spreadsheet and internet skills, which was quite funny really."
But life was to take yet another turn of events. Whilst undertaking a Masters degree, Andy mentioned his background of teaching nursing and IT and it was 'strongly suggested' that his skills could be put to good use at the University..
"It was weird, like Synchronicity had dealt me another card, once again."
Andy lectures in Nursing at universities and polytechnics as well as performing clinical work at the Department of Psychiatry. He maintains a number of websites and advises various agencies on Information Technology matters. His work includes the development of simulated training environments, including computer controlled mannequins used for training nursing and medical students and other clinical staff.
Contact Andy here..