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NRC Industrial Robotics Students Clinch Gold at National Finals


Male and female with gold medals

Northern Regional College continues to lead the way in Industrial Robotics at the WorldSkills UK national finals. Hannah Currie from Randalstown and Peter O’Neill from Ballymoney, who are current and former Foundation Degree Engineering students respectively were gold medallists at the recent national finals in Manchester.

Northern Regional College has stellar record in Industrial Robotics at the WorldSkills UK national competitions. Since Industrial Robotics was introduced as a category in 2021, the College has come out on top each year, in no small part due to the dedication and commitment of engineering lecturer, Karla Kosch who meticulously prepares her students for the competition. 

WorldSkills is a competition-based development programme, designed by industry experts, to enhance the practical skills and knowledge taught on vocational training courses at FE Colleges and Training Centres. Competitions are designed to boost the competitors’ skills and confidence and improve their employability.

Over 400 talented young apprentices and students from all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who excelled in the regional finals in their respective skills area competed in the national finals.

Hannah is in the second year of a Foundation Degree in Engineering at the College in Ballymena and is doing a Higher Level Apprentice (HLA) in Engineering with Wrightbus where she is employed as a Manufacturing Technician.

The former Cambridge House student spends four days with Wrightbus each week and one day in class at the College and said this gives a good balance between practice and theory.

“I’ve developed a range of new skills, from lathe work to working with CNC machines and maths and feel much more confident now in my own ability. 

Hannah added that she had enjoyed her experience of competing in the regional qualifying rounds for the competition and then preparing for the WorldSkills UK national finals and securing the gold medal with her teammate Peter was a real bonus.

“It involved a lot of extra work, but it was well worth the effort as the skills we developed and knowledge picked up along the way will always stand to us and help with us in our careers. 

After leaving school with A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and 10 GCSEs, including 2 A* and 4 As, Peter went to Queen’s University in Belfast but said he struggled to cope with the transition from school to university and left after first year.

He trained as a welder with McAuley Engineering and completed a Foundation degree in Engineering at Northern Regional College. Having successfully completed the Foundation degree, Peter is now a second year BEng Mechanical Engineering student with Ulster University. With the benefit of hindsight, he realises that the Foundation degree would have been a much better option for him when he left school, instead of going straight to university.

“The Foundation degree makes the transition from school much more manageable, and the smaller class size allows the lecturers to interact with all the students to make sure they are coping with the material being taught.

Like Hannah, Peter has enjoyed his WorldSkills experience and said he would encourage other students to get involved.

“It’s a great learning experience and I would encourage other students and apprentices to get involved in skill competitions.

“You will learn new skills which could open future job opportunities. Participating in WorldSkills, qualifying for the national finals is something that will stand on a CV, even if the job you’re applying for isn’t related to the specific skill.”

Congratulating Hannah and Peter on their success at the WorldSkills UK national finals, Karla Kosch said: “I am incredibly proud of Hannah and Peter and I am delighted that their dedication and aptitude has paid off. Their success at WorldSkills UK is a reflection of their talent and is well deserved.”

She continued: “The WorldSkills UK competitions are a great occasion and a wonderful opportunity for young people to showcase their skills on a national platform. Securing gold is the icing on the cake and I’m delighted for them.”