Southern Regional College students have topped the polls again winning with some of their future innovators recognised at BEST Awards, taking four of the award categories at the biggest awards event in the Further Education calendar.

Gerry Campbell, Colleges NI (On behalf of Norbrook) pictured with Life Sciences Award winner James Shilliday from Newry who studies on the HND in Engineering
Gerry Campbell, Colleges NI (On behalf of Norbrook) pictured with Life Sciences Award winner James Shilliday from Newry who studies on the HND in Engineering

The BEST Awards recognise innovation in a wide range of areas ranging from creative industries, to visual design and life sciences being cultivated by students and lecturers across Northern Ireland’s six Further Education Colleges. This year they were held in Newcastle.

The Awards were organised by Colleges NI who are the representative body for all six of Northern Irelands Further Education Colleges. The Awards are linked to the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Visual Design Award sponsor Nicole Curran (PKF-FPM) pictured along with the winner Samantha Hyde from Newtownhamilton who studies on the BA (Hons) Degree in Creative Imaging
Visual Design Award sponsor Nicole Curran (PKF-FPM) pictured along with the winner Samantha Hyde from Newtownhamilton who studies on the BA (Hons) Degree in Creative Imaging

The students competing for the awards highlight the cutting edge and economically relevant skills delivered by Colleges across Northern Ireland.

Southern Regional College winners were Joel Davidson for the Creative Industries Award with his ‘Sleepy Sheep’s Children’s Book’ project; James Shilliday won the Life Sciences Award with his pharmaceutical fridge temperature controller; Samantha Hyde took the Visual Design Award for her ‘Pop up Children’s Book’ ; and Ronan McGibbon, Paul Lyons, Joseph Murnion and Ryan Wilson won the Engineering Award with their ‘3R Mobility Chair’.

The winners have been chosen by a panel of judges drawn from The British Council, the Department for Economy, the Federation of Small Businesses, the NI Science Festival, OCN Northern Ireland, The Princes Trust, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, W5, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Young Enterprise NI.

Engineering Award sponsor Lynda Mann (RAE) pictured along with the winners Ronan McGibbon from Newry, Paul Lyons from Newry, Joseph Murnion from Kilkeel and Ryan Wilson from Kilkeel who all study the HND in Engineering
Engineering Award sponsor Lynda Mann (RAE) pictured along with the winners Ronan McGibbon from Newry, Paul Lyons from Newry, Joseph Murnion from Kilkeel and Ryan Wilson from Kilkeel who all study the HND in Engineering

Commenting on the success, Gerry Campbell, Chief Executive of Colleges NI said “Further Education Colleges across Northern Ireland are preparing students to play a leading role in the development of the Northern Ireland economy.  The excellent projects produced by students who have taken part in the BEST Awards showcase the skills and entrepreneurialism that will be needed to fill the jobs of the future.

"It is vital that these students and all students across Northern Ireland receive the support that will enable them to achieve their full potential for the benefit of society.  This support needs to be provided by government. Students and employers are facing huge uncertainties and threats to future funding owing to the absence of a pro skills and pro business Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Campbell concluded "Our economy faces not only the challenges of the global marketplace but the uncertainties around the potential impact of Brexit.”