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NWRC student wins top prize at the 2019 Project Based Learning (PBL) awards

NWRC’s PBL awards inspire new ‘Olympic Village’ design for Templemore Sports Complex.

A student studying for a career in Architecture at North West Regional College (NWRC) has won the top prize at the 2019 Project Based Learning (PBL) awards.

Ryan McCracken picked up first prize at the awards ceremony for his plans to redesign Templemore Sports Complex, and will now go on to compete at the Northern Ireland Sectoral PBL awards with the four runners-up from NWRC.

Project Based Learning at the college enables students to undertake real life skills projects working directly with local industry. This is second year the awards have run at the college, inspiring students to be innovative, creative and take that first step in work directly with local businesses and employers.

Ryan, who is the final year of a Foundation Degree in Architectural Technology at NWRC, created what he describes as an ‘Olympic Style Village’ masterplan for the Cityside Leisure Centre, designed to provide the most up to date facilities for the local community, as well as encourage more athletes and sports men and women into the city.

He explained: “Derry City & Strabane District Council requested me to look into plans to design a sports leisure centre for the city which can accommodate an extensive range of school and sports activities that can benefit the whole community and the surrounding areas.

“The Templemore site has huge potential for a sports complex masterplan as it is currently a sporting area.

“It would be fantastic for this area of the city to have a sports complex that it deserves and the building that I have designed is a new sports hub for Templemore.

“If this proposed redevelopment of Templemore goes ahead it will boost the local area massively helping to sustain local sporting groups, people within the city and the local areas around it.

“It will also encourage athletes from around the country to visit this sporting area and that can only be a good thing in the long run for the city.”

Ryan will now present his plans to representatives from Derry and Strabane District Council in the next few weeks.

The PBL Awards which took place at the college’s Strand Road campus were sponsored by Connected Talent, Seagate Technologies, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise North West and Foyleside Shopping Centre.

The judges saw a diverse number of entries ranging from a revolutionary Hydraulic Robotic arm, to a study into whether Eczema creams really work.

The Innovation Award, went to William Whiteside, Weronika Sekula and Gillian Goodman for their project – Soil microorganisms the solution to our plastic problems.

The Entrepreneurial award went to Tina Downey and Kylie McGavigan for their invention – the Speedy Recovery Bandicator. The pair, who study Applied Science at the college created a wound dressing that changes colour when infection is present.

The Communication award went to Fidgety fish story sacks, designed by Maria Bonner, Shauna Doherty, Natalia Wroblewska, Kornelia Krawczyk and Caoimhe McCallion. This resource was designed to promote the communication skills of children in their early years.

The Academic achievement award went to the entire Level 3 year 1 Diploma in Art and Design class for their Make Art Not War Project.

Annette Smith, Project Based Learning Mentor and Co-Ordinator, North West Regional College, thanked all of the participants and sponsors for supporting the event.

She said: “To be able to work on live projects has been hard work for the students, but it has been a thoroughly enriching experience for all of them. It is fantastic to see their work now completed.

“The judges were overwhelmed by the level of innovation and creativity in the projects, and indeed said that many of them have the potential to go on and be further developed.

“This event was designed to be more than a competition. It gave the students the opportunity to further develop their skills in planning, problem-solving, communication and presentation which are key outcomes of the experience.

“The college is now looking forward to the Sectoral PBL awards in which finalists from the PBL awards at SERC, SWC, SRC, and Belfast Met will take part. These awards will be hosted at Strand Road Campus.”

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