Two Blackpool and The Fylde College graduates have become the first ever college-based higher education students to be recognised at the world’s largest academic awards event.

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) recently gathered 150 of the top undergraduate students in Dublin for the 2016 UA Global Summit. Often referred to as the “junior Nobel Prize”, the Undergraduate Awards recognises excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts.

This year, two students from the Project Management Centre of Excellence at B&FC became the first non-university undergraduates to be recognised among the finest entrants in the world – an accomplishment which has been hailed as a “huge achievement” by the organisers.

Russell Halton, 24, from Croston, was named Europe Regional Winner in the Business category for his dissertation: “The Nature of Project Management – What we can learn from Biomimicry.”

His colleague Alex Guarracino, 24, from Fulwood, was highly commended for his dissertation: “Passion in Project Management - A necessary ingredient for success?”

Alex studied a five-year honours degree in Project Management at Blackpool and The Fylde College through his employer, BAE Systems.

He said: “It was a real privilege to be recognised by the Undergraduate Awards and hopefully this shows the quality of the programme at the College.

“I often tell people about the standard of education at the College, you get a lot more one-to-one support than just being sat in a lecture theatre with 300 other people.

“The summit in Dublin was a fantastic networking event. In my room alone, I was with scientists from Sweden and Singapore and a graduate from Princeton University in the United States.

“These are people who will be at the top of their fields in years to come so it was really interesting to meet so many of them. It was an inspirational event and I would encourage any students thinking about it to enter.”

Programme Leader Andy Smith, from the Project Management Centre of Excellence, added, “Russ and Alex are the first college-based higher education students ever to be highly-commended at the Undergraduate Awards.

“For Russ’ work to then be judged the top business dissertation for the whole of Europe, beating students from such prestigious universities as Trinity College Dublin, University of St Andrews and the University of Exeter, makes us extremely proud.”

UA Chief Executive Louise Hodgson said: “This is a huge achievement for Blackpool and The Fylde College and its students.

“UA received the highest number of submissions to date with only the best papers making it through the judging process - the competition was extremely tough and the judges were astounded at the high quality of undergraduate research in the programme this year.”

The Undergraduate Awards this year received 5,514 papers from students at 244 institutions and representing 121 nationalities.

In total, 58 different universities and 37 different nationalities were represented at the UA Global Summit this year. The successful students received medals and certificates for their work and were addressed by the keynote speaker, NASA astronaut Dr Mae Jemison. 

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