From incarceration to Microsoft Power Platform: Dylan’s Journey with illuminance Solutions

In the world of technology, narratives of transformation frequently arise from unexpected origins. Dylan Watts’ journey from incarceration in Banksia Hill to learning coding and Microsoft Technology is a prime example, all sparked by an encounter with Illuminance Solutions

“I first heard about illuminance Solutions while I was inside Banksia Hill Detention Centre,” he begins. “Nilesh Makwana, Alex Liffers, and Kok Lim came in to hold a Digital Literacy Training Course.” This encounter marks the beginning of his journey towards personal and professional growth. During the program, Dylan seized the opportunity to engage with the Illuminance team, showcasing his enthusiasm for technology and his eagerness to learn. “I think they liked my attitude towards technology and my eagerness to learn more,” he reflects. “Nilesh gave me a business card after the program.” Determined to make the most of this chance, he reached out to Nilesh upon his release, initiating a conversation that led to an internship opportunity at Illuminance.

Dylan Watts and illuminance Staff member
Dylan Watts and illuminance Staff member 2

As an intern, his days are filled with learning and development. “A lot of learning,” he says with a smile. “I’ve learned things I never knew before, and expanded my knowledge in areas I was already familiar with.” Currently, he is immersed in the development of an app focused on case management, a project that showcases his newfound skills and creativity.

Reflecting on his experience so far, he describes it as “very pleasant.” “All the staff are very friendly and encouraging,” he notes. “And immensely helpful too if I need assistance with anything.” Surrounded by a supportive team, he feels empowered to push boundaries and explore new horizons. In terms of learning, the intern highlights his newfound expertise in coding and Microsoft applications such as PowerApps and Power Automate. “I would like to increase how much I know about these things,” he adds, emphasising his commitment to continuous improvement and efficiency.

Dylan Watts illuminance Solutions intern
Dylan Watts 2024 Coding at illuminance Solutions

One of the highlights of his journey was the opportunity to speak at the West Tech Assemblage (WTA) 2025 conference. “It was a bit nerve-wracking,” he admits. “But I feel I did well.”

Dylan sharing his lived experience from Banksia Hill have had a profound impact, providing a valuable opportunity for reflection and personal growth. He hopes that by sharing his story, he can contribute to improving the experiences of others on similar paths. Dylan highlights critical areas for improvement, particularly the lack of educational resources within the facility. He emphasises the challenges posed by the absence of internet access, limited book and video options, and outdated computers, all of which hinder inmate engagement.

He strongly advocates for more comprehensive educational programs that integrate computers and digital technology, recognizing the rapid pace of technological advancement. He stresses the importance of equipping long-term inmates with the necessary technological skills for successful reintegration into society. Dylan also addresses the issue of inadequate stimulation within the institution, noting the minimal opportunities for mental engagement outside of cells, even in more favourable units.

To address this, he proposes implementing an enhanced reward system, enabling inmates to earn or purchase entertainment materials like gaming consoles. Drawing from past experiences where freely distributed consoles often led to damage, he suggests that earning such privileges could instil a greater sense of ownership and responsibility among inmates, fostering a more positive environment conducive to rehabilitation and growth.

Dylan Watts speaking at the Voices from the Community panel at WTA 2024
Dylan Watts speaking at the Voices from the Community panel at WTA 2024

Looking towards the future, the intern harbors dreams of entrepreneurship. “I eventually would like to start my own business one day,” he reveals. “But in the near future, I would like to continue working with Illuminance Solutions after my internship.”

As Dylan continues to grow and learn, his entrepreneurial aspirations are fuelled by a supportive community. He envisions a future of innovation and empowerment, inspiring us all to believe in the potential for positive change, regardless of our starting point.

Photography: illuminance Solutions | Anderson S. Salazar

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