As we edge closer to welcoming our students back for the 2016-17 academic term, we thought it would be a good idea to round-up the best stories from the College over the past year.
Many successes and major events occurred at Ayrshire College in 2015-16, so enjoy our look back at 10 of our favourites over the past 10 months.
Ayrshire pupils to send experiment into space – June 2016
Perhaps the most enjoyable event we have put on for our students – and pupils from secondary schools across Ayrshire – was ISSET’s Mission Discovery programme.
The week-long space school took place in Ayrshire for the very first time this June, and saw us welcome former NASA astronaut Michael Foale CBE to the Ayr campus along with the rest of the ISSET team comprising of: NASA’s Assistant Chief of EVA, Robotics & Crew Systems, Sarah Murray, Julie Keeble, Lecturer of Pharmacology at King’s College London, and ISSET Director Chris Barber.
Across the week, the participants worked in teams to develop space experiment ideas – with the winning experiment making its way to the International Space Station sometime in 2017, where it will be carried out by real astronauts.
The winning experiment looks at the speed of slime mould on different materials in space, so keep your eyes out for details on when it will be tested!
During Mission Discovery Week, we also held a public ‘Meet the Astronaut’ night, launched our all-female networking group ‘Ayrshire Connects’, and welcomed local and national employers to a ‘Mission Discovery Legacy Dinner’ to discuss how they could support the Mission Discovery programme going forward.
First Minister shows that #ThisAyrshireGirlCan – March 2016
Our #ThisAyrshireGirlCan campaign, created by the Ayrshire College Student Association, celebrated its first anniversary on International Women’s Day by welcoming First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP to the Kilwinning campus.
#ThisAyrshireGirlCan encourages more women to think about choosing a career path that’s currently dominated by males.
School pupils and college students were invited to hear first-hand how the First Minister – who grew up in Irvine – got to the top of Scottish politics.
They were also shown a film highlighting success stories from female Ayrshire College students currently working as engineers. We hope this has inspired them to follow their dreams!
Students mark Scotland’s year of food and drink – September 2015
You are going to take part in a cooking challenge. At Dumfries House. In front of His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay. You have just one hour.
This was the challenge put to our hospitality students last year to celebrate 2015 being Scotland’s year of food and drink.
Supported by Taste Ayrshire, the students received a masterclass session from Trump Turnberry’s Ryan Murphy before undergoing the timed challenge.
As I sampled one or two dishes on the day, I can safely say that the students excelled in the competition.
The progress of our new Kilmarnock campus on Hill Street has been one of the most anticipated, developing stories of the year.
With over a 1,000 views on our Kilmarnock campus Flickr album, the new building certainly seems to have captivated staff, students and the wider Ayrshire public.
We can’t wait until we get the keys to our new home. Thankfully there’s not long to go now though, as the opening date was recently revealed: 24 October 2016!
There was a Big Bang @ Ayrshire College! – June 2016
Secondary school pupils arrived at Ayrshire College last month excited about the prospect of racing their hand-carved model rocket cars in the Bloodhound Project BBC micro:bit competition at the Big Bang @ Ayrshire College event.
Everyone enjoyed themselves as they competed against each other’s rockets, but there could only be one winner. Step forward Queen Margaret Academy, as their pupils’ rocket reached an incredible 48mph.
While their cars were not racing outside our Riverside Building in Ayr, pupils were keen to visit the stalls set up by the British Army, Royal Aeronautical Society, Royal Air Force and United Technologies inside. We also invited the pupils to hear about the range of STEM courses that they offer, including the Foundation Apprenticeship programme.
Ayrshire College is judges’ favourite at Herald Society Awards – November 2015
We were shocked and honoured to pick up a special ‘Judges Award’ at the Herald Society Awards last year.
The final award of the night was presented to the College specifically because we had entered so many strong entries this year, and deserved recognition for doing “a great job across the board”.
Ayrshire College students Pitch Perfect ideas – from February 2016
We were delighted to hear that Nil By Mouth wanted to work with our students for their ‘Pitch Perfect’ marketing campaign.
The anti-sectarian charity invited our 24/7 Plus students to create an awareness campaign to help tackle the problem of sectarianism in our society.
The three groups involved, from Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning, each came up with fantastic ideas that would really help Nil By Mouth get their message across.
In the end the Ayr group won with an educational smartphone app that explained what sectarianism is and the law surrounding it, in a bid to raise awareness of the issue amongst fellow students.
Nil By Mouth are now working with the students to make the idea become a reality and we’re looking forward to seeing the finished result!
X Factor star shines at Ayrshire College – November 2015
When Routes to Business & IT student Euan Bryce invited his favourite X Factor competitor to perform at Ayrshire College, he probably thought it was a bit of a long-shot.
But, if you don’t ask you don’t get, and so we were thrilled to learn that Sam Callaghan accepted the invitation and performed for half an hour at our Ayr campus.
There wasn’t a spare seat in the studio as students packed in to see Sam, who appeared on the tenth series of The X Factor in 2013, perform four songs.
College students to Get Kilmarnock Active – from April 2016
Our sport students have been on a mission to Get Kilmarnock Active this year, with impressive results.
Over 3,000 shoppers within the town centre engaged with the campaign, which was designed to get residents thinking about how they travel, how they eat and how they exercise.
New Scottish Conservative MSP Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, Brian Whittle, even popped down to the students’ ‘Get Kilmarnock Active’ stall on the final day to offer his support.
We are optimistic that the advice the students offered has been taken on board and we will see a fitter Kilmarnock in 2016/17!
Graduations – October / November 2015
We couldn’t look back on our favourite stories of the year without mentioning our graduation ceremonies.
Our three graduation ceremonies at Ayr Town Hall, Kilwinning Abbey Church and the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock are a firm favourite event for staff, students and their families, and 2015/16’s were no different.
Graduation allows us to celebrate the achievements of all of our students, but also gives us the chance to recognise those who have gone above and beyond – our Student of the Year winners.
If you still haven’t seen the photographs from last year, head over to our Flickr page now!
Wait, here’s a quick top ten of our best stories showcasing individual students’ achievements…
Emma-Rose Milligan: Student chef earns Albert Roux OBE opportunity
Calvin Nilsen-Barnes: First Minister nominates student at Young Scot awards
Ainsley-Ann Smith: Student earns medal at European Championships
Daniel Maclean: Student works at Celtic Connections
Laura Anderson: Student’s photographs shortlisted for national competition
Biatrice Gabell: Student wins silver at Commonwealth Youth Games
Emma Davidson: Student make-up artist takes part in national competition