Four exceptional students from Northern Ireland were awarded prizes at a ceremony in Belfast as part of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) Ireland North 50-year anniversary celebrations.
Two of the winning students, Oisin Feehan and Cathal Brough, from South West College in Omagh, were presented their awards by Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) President, Howard Seymour. Oisin was the winner of the Level 2 (Heavy Vehicle) category, whilst Cathal won in the Level 3 (Heavy Vehicle) class.
The awards are further evidence of the high level of road transport technician talent in Northern Ireland and the quality of regional training centres in delivering skilled technicians to local business.
Speaking about the students’ success, Ciaran Woods, Motor Vehicle Lecturer at SWC, said;
“The standard across Northern Ireland colleges is excellent so these are superb achievements for Oisin and Cathal. They are also very deserved rewards for their hard work and fantastic exam results, which included some very high scores.”
Advanced Diagnostics apprentice Cathal said;
“I always loved the technology classes at school, which I always took more interest in than other subjects. I believed in myself, kept going and now I’m collecting this award.”
“The skills needed to be a top technician have changed dramatically, but only for the better given how technology is transforming their vital role in road transport. We’re dealing now with full-on diagnostics in the workshop, which really appeals to me.”
SOE President Howard Seymour opened the evening, giving an address to the audience on the organisational approach to the engineering skills gap, engaging with student members, and attracting more women into engineering. Howard also presented Stephen Donaghy with a certificate for 40-years membership of the IRTE.
“We are delighted to be able to come to Northern Ireland and see, first-hand, how the regional centre here is rewarding special technicians for their performance. At SOE, one of our main objectives is to show how rewarding this industry can be. We know there are many talented technicians here in Northern Ireland and we fully support the IRTE Ireland North Centre in encouraging them to pursue a career in road transport.”
Guest speaker for the evening was Colin Pentland from the Department for Infrastructure. A manager on the York Street Interchange project aimed at easing traffic congestion in Belfast, Colin spoke in detail of the tender process, costs, and potential legal challenges. It is hoped the interchange scheme, which joins the Westlink, M2 and M3, will help the 100,000 vehicles which use it daily.
Michael Kelly from South Eastern Regional College, Lisburn, won the Northern Ireland Heavy Vehicle AutoTech Skills Competition 2017 and Philip Hazelton was the winner of the Level 5 award and IRTE Cup, having studied at the same college. Both were presented their awards at the ceremony.
Sponsors of the evening included official IRTEC assessment centre Transport Training Services (TTS), Halfords and Search Workshop Supplies