Two former Nelson and Colne College Computing classmates are beginning European adventures as they embark on completing PhDs following university.

Jonathan O’Connor, from Kelbrook, has graduated from the University of Hull with a First in his Masters of Chemistry in Nanotechnology, and is now in Germany at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Europe to complete a PhD in Microfluidics.

Meanwhile, former classmate Joshua Dawes has graduated from the University of Manchester with a First in Computer Science and Maths and has taken up a position at CERN in Switzerland to complete his PhD in Formal Methods, an area of Computer Science.

Both former students were in the same Computing class between 2011 and 2013 and have thanked the college for helping them get to where they are today.

Jonathan, 22, who previously went to Ss John Fisher and Thomas More RC High School, said: “My research is in the Microfluidic area of Chemistry and I work under the supervision of Professor Andreas Manz, who is highly respected in his field as being the creator of the lab-on-a-chip which revolutionised modern laboratory analysis.

“I aid in other projects as well as my own and being the only chemist in the group, I’m busy with different and varied challenges on a daily basis. Through my PhD, I’m also getting the opportunity to attend interesting international conferences and I keep up to date with the latest advances in my field.

“My tutors at NCC were an incredible aid when it came to my A Levels and helped me understand how I learn with my dyslexia and dyspraxia. Knowing this, college then helped me develop skills that were invaluable throughout my university studies and help me to this day.

“The teaching staff I studied under really cared and trusted me. This meant I could develop into a far more confident person. They encourage a growth in students that is not only academic but also personal.

“Without Nelson and Colne College, I really wouldn’t be having a chance at the incredible opportunity I have now.”

Joshua, who attended Shuttleworth College, returned to NCC in the autumn when he delivered a talk on the computer systems at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

Joshua, 23, said: “I spent a year at CERN on my year in industry during my university degree and I loved it. It is exciting to be back – it’s at the forefront of science and I really wanted to return.

“I’m here for three years; my current research involves developing areas of Computer Science and applying the results on the CMS Experiment. CMS, which stands for Compact Muon Solenoid, is a general purpose detector on the LHC ring.

“The help, guidance and support I had from the teachers at Nelson and Colne College, in particular from the Maths department, was brilliant and it is a large part of the reason I have got to where I am today.

“They also gave me the belief that I am capable of working in a place that can seem completely out of reach.”

Government data places Nelson and Colne College as the best college in the country for A Levels, based on progress scores, and the best in the area for vocational courses, based on progress scores. NCC is also the top college in the country for learner achievement at all ages and levels and second in the country for its 16-18 Apprenticeship success.

In 2016/17, the college had a 99.7% pass rate at A Level and 28 students achieved at least three A* or A grades – a record number – while one in five leavers progressed on to study at Russell Group universities.

A Year 9 and 10 Open Event will take place at Nelson and Colne College on Monday 30 April from 5.30pm until 7.30pm.

Nelson and Colne College is always happy to hear from alumni, and if you have a story to share or want to reconnect with former friends, head to the college Facebook page at

For more information about Nelson and Colne College contact 01282 440272 or visit