Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), the electricity network company, has awarded two top electrical engineering students a Scholarship worth £24,000 each.
Daniel Robinson and Mark Lindsay are the first students to benefit from the NIE Electrical Engineering Scholarship Programme, which is being run in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast.
The Scholarship is open to first year electrical engineering students and includes an annual bursary and a book allowance every year and payment towards university fees. It also includes paid summer placements and a one year training experience with NIE.
Speaking at the event at Queen’s University Belfast, Gordon Parkes, Human Resources Director at NIE said; “There is a significant shortage of electrical engineering graduates and these skills will be in big demand into the future. NIE has struggled to recruit the appropriate numbers of graduates in the past so we took a decision to sponsor our own students. I’d like to congratulate Daniel and Mark in achieving the NIE Scholarship particularly as they came through a thorough selection process. The NIE Scholarship programme will provide these students with excellent experience working on real engineering projects as they study for their degree. From day one they will be mentored by a professional electrical engineer who will ensure that their classroom learning is complimented by the appropriate practical experience. Electrical engineering is an interesting and challenging career that offers continuing career development and opportunity. NIE has recognised that in order to attract the best possible engineers we need to be working closely with our local universities in order to generate interest and develop graduates at an early point in their career.”
NIE estimates that it will need to recruit a number of engineers every year for the foreseeable future to meet the growing demands placed on the electricity network. The key drivers are the need to replace specialist skills as a result of a significant number of key employees retiring over coming years and the requirement to replace the ageing electricity network in Northern Ireland.
Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning, presented the students with their scholarship. Dr Farry said: “I commend Northern Ireland Electricity for providing these excellent scholarships and also their pro-active collaboration with the higher education sector. These scholarships are not just financially valuable, but will provide an excellent opportunity for local students to develop their skills and knowledge in the industry, gaining important experience for their future careers and also making a valuable contribution to the company.
“A workforce skilled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths [STEM] is fundamental to Northern Ireland’s future competitiveness. There are a vast amount of varied career opportunities available to those studying STEM subjects. It is important to encourage these individuals to pursue a career in STEM if true success is to be realised.”
Daniel and Mark, who received the Scholarship, are delighted to have got through the process. Daniel said, “I am really pleased to be given this opportunity with NIE. This is a great chance to develop a first hand understanding of the electricity industry.” Mark added, “I’m looking forward to starting my training experience at NIE and developing my skills as an engineer.”
Professor Stan Scott, Head of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's is delighted that the students have achieved the scholarship. He said; “I congratulate Daniel and Mark in securing the NIE Scholarships which will benefit them greatly during their studies and future career. There is a shortage of Electrical Power Engineers not only locally but globally, so NIE should be applauded for adopting a proactive approach in addressing this. This scheme will offer our students the opportunity to receive financial support during their studies, as well as invaluable work experience with the Company. Engineers face global challenges including the provision of energy for all. I would therefore encourage more pupils from schools to undertake a degree in engineering which will equip them to shape and benefit modern society in exciting ways.”
The NIE Scholarship is now closed but it will reopen in Autumn 2012. For more information on the programme visit www.nie.co.uk.
Left to right, Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning, scholarship recipients Daniel Robinson and Mark Lindsay, and Mr Joe O’Mahony, Managing Director NIE