Northern Regional College Hosts Schools’ Technology Tournament


Year 10 pupils from local secondary schools went head to head in the annual Rotary Club of Ballymena Schools’ Technology tournament at the Farm Lodge campus Ballymena last week. Seventeen teams from 8 different schools took part in the competition, which was hosted by Northern Regional College in partnership with Ballymena Rotary Club and with the generous support of the local business community.

For the second consecutive year, a team from Ballymena Academy filled the top sport and the team of John Kennedy, Christopher Leech, Ayesha Darragh and Alexander Campbell, was presented with a cheque for £200. St Benedict’s College came second with another Ballymena Academy team coming third. The winning teams qualify for the Northern Ireland finals where they will be up against the winners from the other regional heats in Coleraine, Dungannon, Cookstown and Limavady.

The winning Ballymena teams will now be invited by the Rotary Club to complete in a Northern Ireland-wide event, organised by the Ballymena Club.

Other schools taking part in the competition included: St Louis Grammar School, Cambridge House Grammar School, St Patrick’s College, Castle Tower School, Dunclug College and Cullybackey High School.

Michael Keenan, Northern Regional College Engineering lecturer and Entitlement Framework Co-ordinator explained how the event aimed to promote a greater awareness of the growing employment opportunities in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) related areas.

“Northern Regional College offers a variety of full time and part time STEM based courses, from entrance level right up to Foundation degree. These courses are vocational and focused on the practical and industrial application of these subjects to promote long term employment opportunities.

“The idea behind the event was to try and encourage young people to think about STEM subjects in an innovative and creative way.”

Michael continued: “The teams were given the same unseen technical challenge. They were all asked to design, build and test a motorised device which could clear debris from a normal plastic gutter. They were given 4 hours to complete their project before their design solutions were tested and judged against the other competing teams.

“Completing the technical challenge was an excellent way for Year 10 pupils to explore STEM related concepts as it helped them to learn and apply the underpinning theory to practice in a fun and interesting way.

“At the end of this academic year, these Year 10 pupils have to make important decisions what subjects they are going to being doing for GCSE so hopefully, this event will have encouraged them to consider STEM subjects.
He added: “This collaboration with Ballymena Rotary Club has proved very successful and we hope it will be developed in the future.”

Speaking after the event, Jimmy Kelly, RLC Langford, who was one of the judges, said:
“The technology tournament is an excellent way of introducing young people to the world of work and the capabilities required. Being part of the judging team give me the opportunity to experience firsthand the innovative skills of many of the competitors and I was certainly impressed by many of the designs put forward. It was not only about the competition, as from speaking with many of those taking part, it was a lot of fun as well. I think Ballymena Rotary club are to be congratulated for putting the event together and also NRC for their support in making it happen.

He added: “From my own perspective, it a very enjoyable day. It was a privilege for me to be part of the judging team and I am looking forward to next year’s event.”

Jim Briggs, past-president of Ballymena Rotary Club thanked the local business community for their generous support.

“This event would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, including engineering companies, banks, union organisations, local builders and the NRC itself.


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