Wallace Shanks, from Dunadry, Antrim, was recently one of six South West College (SWC) students to win a coveted Institution of Civil Engineers Quest Technician Scholarship. This prestigious award is a recognition of the achievement and ambition of higher technicians in the civil engineering industry.
Wallace studies an HLA in Civil and Environmental Engineering at SWC. As part of his apprenticeship he is also employed by Martin & Hamilton Construction. Wallace said, “I chose SWC as my next step after leaving school because I wanted to get a degree but also wanted to work, so doing a part-time Higher Level Apprenticeship was the perfect route for me.”
A Higher Level Apprenticeship allows a student to earn while they learn and offers the benefit of providing real world experience to go alongside theory-led classroom learning. Wallace said, “I am a very hands-on person, so I enjoy that I’m actually out on site most of the week getting first-hand experience. The most significant things I have learned so far are the things I could apply to my work on site. These include learning how to use booking sheets when working with a laser level, making concrete cubes for testing concrete strength and planning work.”
The Institution of Civil Engineers Quest Technician Scholarship is open to all eligible students across the Northern Ireland Region of the ICE and applicants were required to complete a very comprehensive application form, focussing on academic achievement, industrial experience and most importantly career aspirations. The applicants were then invited for interview by a panel of professionally qualified engineers. A condition of winning the scholarship was a commitment to assist the ICE in the promotion of the profession at career events and school visits.
Wallace said the scholarship is an important step in his plans for the future. He said, “the scholarship is very significant for me. It will help me buy a more up to date laptop which will help further my CAD skills. When I leave SWC, I plan to attend Ulster University part time where I will continue my Civil Engineering degree. Currently, my plan is to progress further and learn more about site management and take on more responsibility.
“SWC helped with this as I started my course with a different employer and they were very helpful in relation to changing companies. I plan to start working towards getting Engineering Technician status through ICE which will help me begin working towards chartership as I progress with my degree. I would recommend SWC to anyone; the lecturers are very helpful, and the classes are much smaller than conventional university lectures, which I found very beneficial.”
William Young, Project Officer for Civil Engineering at South West College, congratulated the six students from SWC who received scholarships. William said: “When civil engineering was launched at South West College in 2010, professional recognition was seen to be a critical factor and at the core of the programme delivery. Strong links were established and developed with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to ensure that our students would have a full awareness of the importance of professionalism in their future careers. These Scholarships are the direct result of the highly effective relationship which now exists between the ICE and SWC. It is a tremendous personal achievement for the individual winners and to have six in one year is a source of great pride for the Civil Engineering Course Team at the College.”
To find out more or to apply for an engineering course at SWC a please visit our website at www.swc.ac.uk