Maciej Mareh Zych, a pupil at Southern Regional College, Armagh, has won the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend an exclusive two week placement at the United Space School in Houston, Texas, it was revealed at a special event at the Armagh Planetarium.

Maciej, from the School of Applied Science and Academic Studies, and formerly of St Joseph’s High School, entered the esteemed competition by submitting an essay and tackling a challenging interview process.

From the hundreds of entries, Maciej was one of nine shortlisted to be interviewed by a panel that included aerospace expert Sinead O’Sullivan, CEO at Fusion Space Technologies, former research scientist at NASA and members of the SRC academic staff. Following the competitive interview process three finalists were selected from the shortlist and the winner was revealed at an event with included guest speakers including: Lord Mayor Garath Keating – Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education, Department for the Economy and Dougie Davidson Head of Space Programmes, Thales.

Brian Doran – Chief Executive of Southern Regional College, said;

“Maciej is one of our most accomplished students and we are delighted that he will represent the college in Texas.

“We are so grateful for the help given from our generous sponsors Fusion Space Technologies, Queen’s University Belfast and Thales. Their continued support ensures that Southern Regional College can continues to provide international and unique career opportunities for our students. Prestigious placement opportunities like these provide a great launch pad for their future careers.”

Southern Regional College is the only academic institution in Northern Ireland which provides this unique opportunity for one of its students to attend the prestigious United Space School in Houston, Texas.

The two runner-ups, who narrowly missed out on the top spot, included: Callum Flett, former student at Portadown College and Mark Menary, former student at Markethill High School. The three successful finalists are all currently completing their A Levels at Southern Regional College’s Armagh Campus.

The United Space School is an interdisciplinary programme that annually brings 50 students from 25 different nations to participate and study together at the University of Clear Lake in Houston. Under the mentorship of some of the world’s leading engineers and scientists within the aerospace industry, the international students collaborate to design their own ‘Mission to Mars’.

The competition, now in its third successful year at Southern Regional College, was initially  developed in association with Sinead O’Sullivan – a former A Level student at SRC who progressed to Queen’s University Belfast to study Aeronautical Engineering after taking part in the programme herself over 12 years ago. Sinead went on to participate in space research at NASA and is now the successful CEO of her company, Fusion Space Technologies.

The United Space School Competition is joint funded by Fusion Space Technologies, Queen’s University, Belfast and Thales.