Ambitious summer placement students based across the Highlands and Islands who faced their dragons on Friday 7 September have been commended for pitches about their projects.
The students, who came from across Scotland to work for eight weeks with local businesses and social enterprises, were part of the TalentScotland Summer Placement Programme managed by HIE.
Each student worked on a specific project for their host organisation, providing new thinking across a wide range of disciplines including scientific research, marketing projects and design.
The students pitched their project findings in front of a panel of business experts. In joint first place was Laura Syme who worked with New Start Highland in Inverness and Eleanor MacDonald who worked with Urachadh Uibhist in North Uist.
Runners up were Robbie Campbell at the Smart Idea Store in Inverness and Lynsey MacGillivray with SOLV Ltd in Fort William.
A Peoples Choice Award, voted for by the other students, went to Robbie Campbell who was also a runner up in the judges' choice award.
The students worked in businesses and social enterprises in Lewis, Inverness, Tain, Fort William, Tomatin, Wick, Mull and North Uist.
Allan Farquharson, HR Manager at SGL Carbon, attended the day and said: "I was delighted to be able to contribute as a judge at the Summer Placement finals day. I think all the judges were extremely impressed at the effort and commitment put into their placements by all the students, and by the quality of the reports and presentations themselves. What struck me in particular was that, not only did the students gain invaluable work experience closely related to their studies, but the organisations themselves have also undoubtedly benefited from some extremely well-executed project work."
As well as gaining experience through the paid placements, the students received tailored training from Robert Gordon University's Aberdeen Business School at Fairburn Activity Centre near Muir of Ord. The training helped them with presentation and business pitching skills in preparation for this competitive event. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) have made the development and delivery of the tailored section of the course possible.
Ruth Sime, Head of Programmes at HIE said: "The students really impressed on the day when giving their pitches to the business experts and brought their projects to life. The TalentScotland Summer Placement Programme provides benefits for both students and employers and the relevant work experience gained by the students sets them apart from others when applying for jobs, particularly when graduate opportunities are limited. A number of students commented on the fact that they were able to work with current industry standard software that is not used at universities. The employers are able to take on committed project staff at a subsidised rate during the holiday period who bring fresh ideas and technical skills into the organisation. Some students have been retained by the host organisation on a part time basis."