Cambridge Regional College - Centre of Vocational Excellence

Two of our students are among the top three engineers in the country

Cambridge Regional College is celebrating after two of its learners were named among the top three engineering students in the country.

The pair were chosen from hundreds of entrants studying engineering at further education colleges across the country.

Greg Martin, 51, of Chatteris, is dyslexic and was told at school he would never amount to anything. Now a successful technical and engineering manager with ENGIE, Greg hated school. Now, he is urging people of any age to consider going back to the classroom to give it another go. He says if he inspires one other learner it will mean more to him than winning this award.

Rico Barbera, 29, of St Neots, is an area supervisor with National Grid Gas and studied a BTEC Level 4 in engineering to improve his future career prospects. He said that while it was hard juggling full time work and study it was worth it to reap the rewards.

Greg has been awarded silver in the BTEC awards, while Rico has been awarded bronze.

Dr Omar Bassam, Course Tutor at Cambridge Regional College for Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “We are incredibly proud of these two students. They have worked very hard and the results are clear.

“To have two students from Cambridge Regional College win awards for BTEC Engineering Student of the Year, best one the country, is a real accolade for them and for the college.  It is an achievement as it is a competitive award. It is always a pleasure to teach students like Rico and Greg and to be part of their progress and achievement.”

Dad of four Greg Martin, of Chatteris, left school in 1984, making his recent HNC course, his first time officially back in the classroom for 35 years.

His son Lane, 14, helped him with the course as well as encouragement from his children Luke, 27, Lea, 15 and Larna, 12. He also had plenty of encouragement from wife Angie.

Greg said: “I am dyslexic, although that wasn’t recognised as a thing in the 70s and 80s, so back then I struggled. I hated scool.

“My teachers said I would never amount to anything. Four years later I was back in that school replacing all their old boilers as a qualified gas engineer.

“If I inspire one older learner to go back to college that will mean more to me than my silver award.

“Studying again all these years later was hard at times juggling work and family commitments, but I was given plenty of help from tutors, class mates and family with reading and spelling. I can’t pretend, I was scared coming back to college, on the first day I thought what on earth have I done?

“However, the tutors were incredible and the whole thing became a team work exercise. Often I could help the younger ones out with my job experience of project management while they would help me with things I struggled with.

“I got further than I ever thought and that is thanks to the amazing teaching staff. I want to tell anybody reading this never let anybody tell you that you cannot do something. You can do anything if you just put your mind to it.

“Don’t be scared, give it a go. I might even progress to do my HND. I have proved what you can achieve when you push yourself forward.”

Rico Barbera, of St Neots, said: “I did my BTEC Level 3 in 2006 as part of an apprenticeship and decided to upgrade my skills by doing the Level 4 at CRC.

“I’m really surprised that we are in the top three knowing how many excellent students we will have been pitted against. It is a real honour.

“Studying was hard at times to get the work life balance right. It was challenging but I knew to keep going and stay focused. The study does not last forever, and it is surprising how quickly a course goes.

“The rewards are worth it in the end. My end goal is to further my career and improve my prospects.

“At CRC I found there was always plenty of support from tutors who deserve so much thanks in helping us be the best students we could be.”

The 9th annual BTEC Awards celebrate exceptional BTEC students and apprentices and recognise the inspirational teachers and tutors whose dedication and passion mould the career professionals of the future.

Greg and Rico both studied HNC L4 BTEC Electrical /Electronic Engineering .

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