The achievements of the top performing engineering students at Northern Regional College were celebrated at the School of Engineering and Built Environment’s end of year presentation ceremony. James Heaney, a Foundation Degree Engineering student from Ballymena, won the Dayle Smyth Endeavour award and Antrim student Sam Courtney was awarded the Concorde Cup for the Best Student Achievement on BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering.

Speaking at the presentation, Gordon Kane, Assistant Head of Department and Course Director Foundation Degree in Engineering said the presentation was a great opportunity to formally recognise the achievements of the students at the end of their further and higher education programmes.

“This year’s further education students were particularly good and all deserve recognition for their achievements. Some of these students will be progressing to university, others will return to the College to continue on one of our Foundation Degree programmes or Higher Level Apprenticeships, while others will go directly into employment.”

The Dayle Smyth Endeavour award, is presented in memory of an outstanding former Northern Regional College student, Dayle Smyth, who died as a result of a road traffic accident in July 2014. Dayle studied for five years at the College, starting with a Level 3 Diploma and progressing to complete a Level 5 HND in Manufacturing Engineering. At the time of the accident, Dayle was employed by RLC (UK) Ltd at Langford Lodge. The award was conferred by his father, Gary Smyth.

Congratulating James on his success, Mark Maginty, co-ordinator of Foundation Degree Electrical/Electronic Engineering said he was a very deserving winner:

“James is a very capable academically and has a healthy work ethic but first and foremost, he exhibits a personality that is a pleasure to have in a teaching environment; he is inquisitive and meticulous with his efforts.”

He continued: “James continually demonstrated ability and commitment throughout the two year programme and obtained remarkable grades in all modules. I wish him and all the other students every success in their future endeavours.”

Sam Courtney, winner of the further education award, completed the Extended Diploma Level 3 Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering with an impressive overall Distinction* profile, achieving 15 Distinctions out of 18 over the two year programme.

Offering her congratulations, Karla Kosch, course co-ordinator of Extended Diploma in Engineering programme, said the former Parkhall Integrated College student had shown outstanding commitment from his first day on the course.

“Sam’s dedication, performance and attitude towards an engineering career was also illustrated in the extra-curricular activities he was involved in, such as the Career Ready programme. This offered Sam great employability skills as well as a six week work placement with the Camden Group Ltd in Antrim, where he was highly appreciated for his commitment and engagement.”

Karla continued that Sam’s final year project - an automated pet feeding station - was very well planned and executed and probably the best within the Level 3 Engineering programme.

“Sam was the only student who managed to build and complete a working prototype. His determination and work ethic allowed him to succeed and surpass the other students. It was a privilege to teach Sam. As well as being a brilliant student, he was modest, altruist and an excellent person. The teaching team wish him every success in his future engineering career.

Although he could have gone on to study engineering at either Queen’s University or Ulster University, Sam says he has decided to do a Foundation Degree in Engineering at Northern Regional College because of the ‘high standards of analytical and practical skills’ among the lecturing staff. 
For the past 20 years, the Concorde Cup award has been presented by Oliver Reid, former Head of the School of Engineering, to the best performing student in Level 3 Engineering. This year, two of the previous winners Gregory Hewitt (2016) and Aaron Stevenson (2017), who both studied Manufacturing Engineering, were invited back to this year’s presentation to share their experiences with current students and their former lecturers.

They said they had both benefited from the ‘student driven approach’ of the College’s lecturing staff. Gregory is currently a student at Queen’s while Aaron plans to return to the Northern Regional College in September to do a Higher Level Apprentice in Engineering.


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