Developments First sod cut at South West College Erne Campus site

This Tuesday saw the cutting of the first sod on the site of the new Erne Campus. We're delighted to have reached this milestone event in the College’s history. We are on the cusp of an exciting new era, with the cutting of the first sod at the Erne Campus, which will see the construction excellence of Tracey Brothers, the financial commitment of the Department for the Economy and the vision and aspiration of South West College brought together for the economic, social and educational benefit of the Southwest Region.

Students, parents and employers alike will all see huge opportunities emanate from the new development and we look forward to sharing the College’s journey into the first PassivHaus Premium development on this scale, with the Business and Education Community in the UK, and our wider, global network of educational partners.

Noel Lavery, Permanent Secretary, Department for the Economy, commented on the significance of today’s event:

"I am delighted to be here today to mark this significant milestone. This exciting project will deliver first class facilities and accommodation for students and staff at South West College while enhancing the education, skills and employability of our young people. The construction of the new campus will also strengthen South West College’s curriculum delivery, enhancing its existing PassivHaus offering and establishing the College internationally as one of the foremost deliverers of sustainable construction training."

Awards SWC Students shine at Skillbuild NI 2018!

South West College students from across our campuses were successful at Skill Build NI 2018 recently, when over 70 local construction apprentices gathered their tools to compete against each other.

Skillbuild NI is organised by CITB NI and supported by the Department for the Economy and helps to assist with maintaining and raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training. The NI National Finals were held in North West Regional College, Greystone Campus, Limavady on 23rd March 2018, with South West College having a total of seventeen students competing, nine of which won medals.

The competition is held annually each spring with many winners progressing further to represent Northern Ireland in the Skills Show UK and potentially at WorldSkills and is also supported by local construction employers who sponsor each trade category.

The Skillbuild NI competition is designed to test skills, technique and ability within tight timeframes in order to win coveted titles in 10 different trades ranging from brickwork to wall and floor tiling.

Success for South West College came with Edward Allan winning Gold in the Cabinet Making trade, and Kyle Weir winning gold for Joinery. Other medallists were David McHugh, who picked up silver in Electrical Instillation; Deividas Kaunas, who got bronze in Joinery; Tyler Meehan and Jack Lyons who won silver and bronze respectively in painting and decorating; Conrad Keenan and Jessica Dardis, who were awarded silver and bronze respectively in plastering and drywall systems; and Leonard Keown, who received silver in plumbing pipework.

Maurice Johnston, Chairman CITB NI said: “Skills competitions are a very positive news story for Northern Ireland. They are a great way to showcase our vocational skills and demonstrate to employers and future investors the high standard of training provision which exists in our colleges and training organisations.

Gold Award for Catering Students!

The South West College (SWC) catering students served up an award-winning ‘al fresco’ style menu at the recent IFEX competition at Belfast’s Titanic Centre. IFEX is Northern Ireland’s premier showcase of the latest food and drink products, catering equipment, interiors, technology and services to the food, retail and hospitality industries.

The Level 2 Professional Cookery students from SWC Dungannon were among a team of invited competitors from Northern Ireland’s colleges to produce and serve a range of exciting and modern street style food in the ‘Salon Culinaire – Street Food International’ category. The students had to produce and serve a range of exciting modern street food dishes ‘al fresco’ style to 100 invited diners, all of which was done to a high standard and earning the team the Gold Award.

Students receive SSE Airtricity scholarships!

Several South West College students recently receive SSE Airtricity scholarships, making them part of a total of 100 students to benefit from the energy company's fund which supports students living near their new wind farms. The fund is in its fourth year and has seen almost £360,000 being handed out to help students with their studies.

Scholarships awarded to aspiring civil engineers from SWC

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Northern Ireland has awarded seven QUEST Technician Scholarships, totalling £10,000, to outstanding budding civil engineers from across the Province, all of whom are following different paths into industry.

Four students from South West College each received a £1500 QUEST Technician Scholarship, which recognises excellence among students or apprentices on further or higher education courses, that could also lead to becoming an ICE Technician member (EngTech MICE).

Working for Whitemountain, Jack Henry is attending SWC through the Work+ Apprenticeship Scheme. Jack became interested in civil engineering after being inspired by the construction of the Derry-Londonderry Peace Bridge and now has a long-term goal of becoming a chartered civil engineer.

Tristan Harpur, an apprentice with Lowry Building and Civil Engineering and studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at SWC, became interested in civil engineering after realising the vast opportunities and technology available to civil engineers, as well as the satisfaction engineers gained from solving problems. Tristan has been involved in several projects which have gained several regional and national awards. He says the awards were a “massive confidence boost,” and showed him that “working as a team can help you create something you couldn’t do yourself.”

Sile McKinney is a Work+ Apprentice with Lagan Construction Group and is studying at SWC. Sile has done extensive volunteer work related to earthquake relief both in New Zealand and in Nepal. She hopes to continue her studies and earn a BEng and then work in earthquake response. She says her volunteer experiences gave her "insight into the vulnerability of people's lives" relating to the buildings in which they live and work.

Jack Mitchell, who is doing a Foundation Degree at SWC, is simultaneously working as a trainee engineer at Henry Brothers. He says that his passion for business and enterprise have inspired his goal of establishing his own civil engineering business. However, he says that "with much to learn about the construction industry, my current objective is knowledge, qualification, and experience."

Speaking about the QUEST Technician Scholarships, Mr Padraig McNamee, Head of Technology at SWC said:

“We are delighted with the success of our students being awarded the prestigious QUEST Technician Scholarships. This financial reward is well deserved and testament to their abilities and potential, which boosts their CVs and ultimately their reputation within the industry.”

Events Open Days come to a close after successful events across our campuses

The 2018 open days concluded at the end of last month with the Dungannon Campus opening its door to prospective students and their families and friends. With special events and displays organised across various curriculum areas, the Open Days proved insightful and enjoyable, with a total of over 1,200 students registered for the Open Days across Omagh, Enniskillen and Dungannon. As they were joined by two or three guests at a time, it made for some huge numbers coming through the South West College doors...

Former Students Art Exhibition on Display in Ennsikillen

An exhibition of work by emerging artist, Megan Dunbar, is currently on display in Ulster Bank, Darling Street, Enniskillen as part of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Pop up Exhibition Programme.

Originally from Enniskillen, Megan studied at Mount Lourdes Grammar School and South West College. She recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art with first class honours and now lives in Sheffield, England where she is a full time artist. She has shown her works throughout Sheffield and has had works selected to be displayed at We The North Gallery in Liverpool.

Megan’s recent work surrounds memories of a childhood spent in Enniskillen. She uses abstraction and confident mark making to create windows into her memories. She works in a variety of materials including oil, watercolour and enamel paint to produce immersive scenes. She is heavily influenced by the work of renowned Scottish painter Peter Doig and the New York abstract expressionist movement from the 1940s and 50s. Megan says her biggest influence is her father, Liam Dunbar, who uses skill and craftsmanship to create vintage style fishing floats. Megan also has taken to crafting fishing floats as a way of continually connecting with Lough Erne whilst living away from home.

Megan’s present exhibition consists of oil paintings, both large and small scale. The exhibition was officially opened by Megan’s uncle Adrian Dunbar on Thursday 29 March 2018 and continues at Ulster Bank, Darling Street, Enniskillen, until the end of May 2018.

CharityTeamtalk Erasmus student settling into life at South West College

Karim, who lives and studies in Madrid, is an Erasmus student on a three month placement with South West College. Karim plans to Study Marketing at college in Spain, so Northern Ireland, and South West College, were identified as the ideal placement location for him. Karim says he was delighted with the destination as it allows him to practice and improve his English speaking, which he says employers have already told him will be a fantastic advantage when he looks for employment in the future.

Karim has been here since March 13th, and although travelling from home by himself brings its own challenges, such as negotiating his way through the airport, finding his way from the airport to the bus station, and settling into a new environment, he says it has already been a rewarding experience. Despite some previous understating of Northern Ireland’s culture and history, he says he has already learned plenty more, and the weather hasn’t been as bad as he feared, because despite it raining far more frequently than it does in Spain, the showers are at least not as heavy. Best of all, the Irish people have been very friendly, and, he says, are very similar in character to the Spanish. Karim says everyone from his landlord to the people he works with have been very friendly, and it’s through this that he’s managed to feel ease here after some early homesickness.

Keen to make the most of his time here, Karim will be working with South West College students, conducting surveys with them and generating an overall view of student opinions. He is embracing the opportunity, not least because with Brexit imminent it may not arise as often in years to come. He says that lots of Spanish students want to study in the UK because of the unique environment, which is so different to studying in Spain, Italy or Germany, where the experiences are similar.

Catering students visit China!

Our catering and hospitality students are currently on a two week visit to sunny Wuhan, Hubei and Beijing. There'll be more about their trip in future editions of Front Page Friday, but for now here they are at the start of their visit.

Local Engineering Opportunities

On Tuesday, the connected project in partnership with the Target Project hosted local manufacturing firms in Omagh as part of a series of presentations on the vast array of engineering opportunities available with local businesses.

Trending South West College staff took on Omagh Half Marathon and 5k!

Congratulations to everyone who completed the Omagh Half Marathon, or the Omagh 5k, last Saturday, including a lot of South West College staff and students.

The event attracted over 3,00 participants, including runners, walkers and wheelchair participants, who made their way around the streets of Omagh, aiming for personal bests, an enjoyable family day out, or just an opportunity to get involved in the carnival like atmosphere.

Irish international Stephen Scullion won the Omagh Half Marathon in a time of 67 minutes and 1 second. Congratulations to everyone who took part!

Pictured: Head of Finance, Sean O'Donnell, setting the pace in the opening stages of the Omagh Half Marathon.