Trailblazing student develops app to help kids pass drivers test

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
Charles Darwin University student Jade Doan is developing an app designed to help international students understand the local road safety laws before getting behind the wheel on Northern Territory roads.

When she was in high school in Vietnam, Jade Doan was often told IT was “not suitable for a girl”.

But today, the Charles Darwin University (CDU) international student is putting her knowledge of technology to positive use by developing an app to help students prepare for their driving test in the Northern Territory.

The CDU Master of Software Engineering student is in the design stages of an application called NT Driver’s License Helper, which can help people who are unfamiliar with the NT’s road rules explore a convenient way to improve their road safety knowledge before hitting the road.

Product of personal experience and peer support

Ms Doan coded the app herself and says she drew from personal experience, combined with feedback from peers and tutors, to make sure it was simple, effective, and interactive.

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“When I was studying for the NT license test, I was given a book with lots of pages to memorise,” Ms Doan says.

“I thought there must be a more interactive way to learn all this information and make studying easier especially for an international student like me.”

The application features multiple choice answers on road rules, graphics of potential driving scenarios and a user-friendly interface that shows the right answer when incorrect.

She hopes to host the app on both Android and IOS systems, as well as a website version.

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“Driving laws are different in our home countries. As I keep working on this app, I want to make sure that it caters to diverse learning styles and collaborate with others to improve the way it works,” Ms Doan says.

Overcoming obstacles to pursue a passion for tech

With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and experience as a teacher in Vietnam, Ms Doan defied social expectations in her pursuit of a career in Information Technology (IT).

“While I liked teaching maths, I was always more interested in coding and software development, and I learnt everything I could from scratch,” she says.

“But I didn’t want to put myself in a box and teach for the rest of my career. Now at CDU, I am really enjoying my studies and look forward to becoming qualified soon, so I can contribute my skills to an IT company here in the NT.”

Meeting, greeting and making life safer

Ms Doan enjoys helping welcome new students as a committee member of the Vietnamese Student Association, and says she believes international students can fill a vital gap in Darwin with their knowledge and skills.

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“It is so nice to meet new students and welcome them into our CDU social groups, wherever they have come from,” she says.

“There are many opportunities for international students to share their culture and perspectives, as well as apply their skills in jobs that are in-demand in the Territory.”

Ms Doan fulfilled a childhood dream of traveling to Australia when she arrived in the country as a backpacker in March 2023.

While she liked the vibrant cities of Sydney and Melbourne, it was the unique charm of tropical Darwin and supportive community, including at CDU, that made her want to stay.

“I heard that Darwin has the best sunsets, and it is true! Many people here are happy to help, particularly the Vietnamese community.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]