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Former Students Playing Key Role in Development of Northern Regional College’s New Campus


Group standing in front of plasma screen

Almost forty years after studying construction at Northern Regional College in Ballymena, two alumni are back at their old ‘stomping ground’ and playing a key role in the development of the College’s new campus at Farm Lodge. Colin Michael from Magherafelt and Richard Lennox from Cullybackey went their separate ways after completing an ONC in Construction Studies at the College in Ballymena back in the mid ‘eighties but their paths crossed again last year when they found themselves working on the College’s new campus.

Heron Bros. secured the contract to build the new £43 million campus at Farm Lodge which will see teaching at the College’s existing sites - Farm Lodge, Trostan Avenue and the Lamont Building - consolidated onto one modern 190,000 sq ft building.

After many years working at home and abroad on a variety of major projects, Colin is now employed by Heron Bros. as project manager for the new campus.

Richard pursued a different career path and while completing his HNC in Belfast, secured employment with an architectural firm and he is now an associate and architectural technologist with Belfast company Isherwood & Ellis Architects, one of the companies subcontracted to work on the new campus development. 

Colin and Richard took time out from their busy schedules to talk to current HNC Construction and Built Environment and BTEC Level 3 Construction and the Built Environment students at the College.

They outlined their own divergent career paths and gave examples of the many exciting opportunities that vocational Construction Studies courses can lead to.

They highlighted the multi-faceted nature of the construction industry and explained how the built environment impacts on the world around us, from where we live, work and play and covers retail, entertainment, healthcare, education, historical and cultural facilities, as well as travel infrastructure and energy generation.

The construction industry in Northern Ireland is expected to grow creating new employment opportunities and leading to a variety of career paths to suit different skillsets including skilled trades, such as electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, plasterers, engineers, quantity surveyors, architects, surveyor, project managers and BIM managers.

Thanking Colin and Richard for their interesting and wide-ranging presentation, Cherith Simpson, Course co-ordinator on for Year 2 BTEC course and lecturer in Sustainable Construction and CAD, said it would help the students appreciate how their vocational courses can be a pathway to a wealth of fulfilling career opportunities in the construction industry.

The presentation to the construction studies students was delivered as part of an initiative designed to supplement the College’s engagement obligations under the Social Clause requirements.

First year Level 3 Construction Studies student Scarlett McArthur, said the presentation was ‘inspiring’.

She hopes to follow in Richard’s footsteps and qualify as an architectural technician but first plans to complete the Level 3 Extended Diploma and progress to do a Foundation Degree.

Northern Regional College is introducing a several new courses for the 2023/24 academic year, including a part-time Foundation Degree in Architectural Technology.