Ballymoney man plays key role to get NRC into Robotics category at WorldSkills UK finals
Peter O’Neill from Ballymoney, along with Hannah Currie from Randalstown, both Foundation Degree in Engineering at the College in Ballymena, secured their spot by impressing judging in the Northern Ireland regional qualifying rounds to finish among the top eight in the UK.
Northern Regional College has stellar record in Industrial Robotics at the WorldSkills UK National competitions with students winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the national finals in recent years.
Peter and Hannah are among the talented young 442 talented apprentices and students from all over the UK to qualify for the national finals in 51 different skills areas.
In addition to Industrial Robotics, Northern Regional College will be represented at WorldSkills UK national finals this year in Mechatronics (Canaan Carleton and Kyle Davidson), Plumbing (Morgan Finney) and Welding (Jamie McArthur-Gill).
After leaving Coleraine Academical Institution with A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and 10 GCSEs, including 2 A* and 4 As, Peter accepted a place to study at Queen’s University in Belfast but admitted that he struggled to cope with the transition from school to university and left after first year.
He then trained as a welder and was employed by McAuley’s Engineering and, was subsequently transferred to work on tube bending machines.
“While I enjoyed working for McAuley’s, I was disappointed not to have been able to take my education further. I investigated my options and realised that the Foundation Degree at Northern Regional College would allow me to continue my education.
“The Foundation Degree makes the transition from school much smoother and more manageable, and the smaller class size allows the teacher to interact with all the students to make sure they are coping with the material being taught. It also means you get a more ‘personal’ education by getting to know the lecturers and other students in the class.“
Peter continued that the Foundation Degree involved more coursework than he was used which meant he had to improve his time management skills to ensure that his assignments were completed on time and to a high standard.
“I have always been a very quiet student and did not participate in many extra-curricular activities but being involved in WorldSkills has helped me to come out of my shell and this has given me the confidence to try other activities.”
He said he would have no hesitation recommending the Foundation Degree as an alternative route for school leavers and feels that skills and knowledge he has developed, both as a result of the Foundation Degree and through his participation in WorldSkills, will help him in the future: “I would encourage other students to get involved in skill competitions. You get to learn new skills which could open future job opportunities. Participating in WorldSkills and qualifying for the national finals is also something that will stands on a CV, even if the job you’re applying for isn’t related to the specific skill.
WorldSkills UK national finals will take place from 14 – 17 November at colleges, independent training providers and universities across Greater Manchester.