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The Faculty of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment recognised the success of its students who have been working on placement over the past year.

While COVID-19 has meant that no physical ceremony could take place as in previous years, the achievements of students who have had a significant impact during their time spent out industry were nonetheless recognised.

Eoin Orr, who is currently on placement with Dupont UL Industrial UK, was the Engineering winner, while Ben McCallion, out with Seagate Technologies, was the Computing winner. Jessica Hyndman was the Built Environment winner for her work with Errigal Contracts.

The three winners received a prize of £500 each from the Faculty for their innovative contributions to their respective companies. Furthermore, Ronan Rafferty received a Special Mention for his work with the Southern Trust.

Eoin worked with Operations, Technology, Design contractor, Installation contractor and Vendor teams at Dupont to develop, program and install a signal that massively enhanced the operating efficiency of their Kevlar® winding system. This technology will be rolled out to all machines at the company’s Maydown plant, and potentially at their sites in Japan and USA.

Ben was instrumental in developing the specific technology for a brand-new type of Magnetic Recording called HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording). The new head is not yet in production, however the specific model created by Ben will be the first of its kind, mass produced for commercial drives. This model will massively help numerous teams within Seagate, both at the company’s Springtown headquarters and in other Seagate sites

Jessica in her placement year at Errigal has continuously reinvented the day-to-day design of facades by pushing Building Modelling Information (BIM) to advanced levels within the company. This has greatly improved the communication links between the site team and the design office. A great example of this is on Errigal’s largest façade project to date, Brunel Street Works, where Jessica modelled Block E by herself.

Ronan was on a one-year industrial placement with the BioMed Eng dept., within the Southern Trust, based at Craigavon Area Hospital and worked daily at servicing a range of medical equipment including Infusion Devices, ECG units. The training Ronan received proved to be invaluable in that he was asked to work full time in ICU because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Executive Dean Professor Liam Maguire congratulated all nominees and underlined the importance of Placement for undergraduate students:

“The benefits of a student placement are immense both in terms of academic performance, student experience and optimizing employability. It allows you to not only gain experience but it can lead to your employment with your original placement organization. In fact, recent statistics show that 84 % of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment students are in employment within the first 6 months of graduating.

“From the student perspective, Placement allows you to build your network and develop valuable skills and competencies specific to your subject and industry of choice. Skills that you will build and develop upon throughout your entire career. This experience will help you to make better informed choices about your future whether it be in Industry are in Research.”

As he thanked industry partners for their continued support he added:

“Placements are not possible without the support of our industry partners who are not only working collaboratively with our Faculty in many areas such as Research, Knowledge Transfer, course design, graduate employment as well as work-based placements. Your contribution to ensuring that our courses are not only relevant but future proof, and that our students leave the Institution with skill sets fit for employment is invaluable. I appreciate the challenges facing us all this year with Covid-19 and the difficult economic and social circumstances. However, I look forward to working with our partners and celebrating the successes of our undergraduate students on placement for many years to come.”

Professor of Innovation at Ulster University Jonathan Wallace commented:

“The awards are in their 18th year this year and once again the level of innovation presented to the judging panel was to a high standard. We developed these awards to allow us to recognize and showcase the positive impact that our students can have on their placement organizations. The students are nominated by their placement organisations, only if they felt they had made a significant impact upon their organisation, above and beyond that expected as the duties of a normal placement student. Innovations this year included development of new policies, new technologies and software development which have significantly improved business insight and operational efficiencies in their placement companies.

“Undertaking a placement year is vitally important and not only helps to prepare students for the world of work but increases their employability in what is an increasingly competitive market place. The Faculty and the University greatly values the collaborative relationship we have with our placement providers and the vital practical experience it brings to our students. Congratulations to all students nominated, runners up and the winners and thanks to Jennifer, Roseanne and Sky for their administrative support and Joanne, Edwin and Alistair for acting as Subject Area Expert Judges once again.”