Shane Mc Aloon from Fermanagh left school aged 16 and enrolled at South West College (SWC) to study a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering that helped nurture and develop his interest in Engineering.
After completing his GCSE's at Saint Eugene's College, Rosslea, Shane said, "I found school very boring, and I had no interest in going to University. So, I decided to study at SWC and enrolled on a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering as it presented a more hands-on learning experience. The first year of my BTEC studies was very similar to school. However, at SWC, I had ownership of my time alongside an excellent learning environment with the latest cutting-edge technology."
"I enjoyed the more practical way of studying and the variety of modules which equipped me with a broad insight into the different engineering aspects. The lecturers were very helpful, and due to the smaller classes, you could ask as many questions as you like, which improved my learning experience and built up my confidence and skill set. It wasn't until I started my second year that I started developing a keen interest in Engineering. SWC helped me realise what I could achieve if I put the effort in and what goals I wanted to achieve in years to come helping spark the beginning of my pursuit towards higher education."
After two years at the Skills Centre, Shane aimed high and progressed to a Foundation Degree in Mechatronics Engineering at SWC, Omagh Campus. He said: "As part of the foundation degree, I had to complete a 3-month placement and gained work at Combilift, a forklift manufacturer in County Monaghan, where I currently still work. The foundation degree alongside my work placement was a slight step up from a BTEC but very manageable and afforded me the opportunity to work and learn whilst broadening my experience and enhancing my CV. I enjoyed PLC programming and electronics, and the knowledge from these subjects helped augment my practical, professional and technical skills, allowing me to transition to university with ease."
"I found going into my second year at Ulster University quite a bit of a jump. However, the transferrable knowledge and real-world experience I had gained from SWC was a great steppingstone that helped prepare me. Initially, I was only going to complete my bachelor's degree, but after an overall grade of 1:1 from the second year. I decided to pursue a German master's course in collaboration with Augsburg University, Germany, and that has provided me with the opportunity to study in Germany whilst working towards a German Masters and Ulster University Masters in Mechatronic Engineering, which I am due to complete in June 2021." Said Shane.
SWC alumni Shane hopes in the future to obtain a Control engineering job with Combilift or potentially look at a PhD and has ambitions to return to Germany to work.
Shane is thankful for all the support and knowledge he received at SWC and encourages others considering embarking on a career in the thriving Engineering sector to consider SWC. He believes it helped bring forth his achievements, allowing him to aim higher and go further within his education.
Shane says, "You don't have to be a genius to study engineering; you just have to put the effort in, what you put in - is what you get out, never think that it will do or it's enough, strive to become the best you can be, and you will succeed. I never dreamt when I enrolled at SWC that in a few short years, I would be on my way towards attaining an Ulster University Masters and a German Masters in Mechatronics Engineering with the opportunity to travel and live in Germany. I will be forever grateful to SWC and the lecturer's as they provided me with the ideal pathway to University and played a pivotal role in my success."
For further information and to apply, please visit www.swc.ac.uk.