The winner of the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is 17-year old Paul Clarke from St Paul’s College, Raheny, in Dublin.
Paul won for his project – “Contributions to cyclic graph theory”, which competed in the senior section of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. He was presented with a cheque for €5,000, the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 26th European Union Young Scientist competition, taking place in September, and a perpetual trophy. As this year’s winner, Paul also won a trip to Silicon Valley in California, home to some of the world’s biggest technology corporations, where he’ll meet BT’s Innovation team, enjoy a hosted tour of leading enterprises and meet business leaders from the world of science and technology.
Colm O’Neill, CEO, BT Ireland, said, “When we set out last year to plan for the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition we wanted to make sure that this was our most exceptional event to date. I’m delighted to say that it has exceeded all of our expectations. Over the past three days we have had some of Ireland’s brightest, most creative and positive young people astound us with their ideas for a better future and we have been greatly impressed by the high standard of these entries.”
He added, “Over the years the exhibition has proven to be an important launch pad for the next wave of entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and technologists; people who will be fundamental in addressing the global skills shortage. For that reason, we cannot underestimate the importance of this exhibition in encouraging our young students to pursue careers in science and technology. I would like to congratulate every single student who participated this week and of course to Paul on his enormous achievement. If our past winners have taught us anything, it’s that this award could change his life.”
Speaking about the winning entry, Professor Tom Laffey, judge in the Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences category said: “Graph theory is an area of pure mathematics which studies properties of linkages and networks. It has applications in several areas including computing, molecular structure, neuroscience, search engines, engineering etc. In this project Paul makes a profound contribution to the study of graphs. He identifies key concepts and provides the methodology to apply them to some long-standing major problems in the subject with great success.”
Ruairi Quinn TD, Republic of Ireland Minister for Education and Skills commented “The talent, creativity and enthusiasm expressed by our young students here this week offers a positive insight into the future of this country. We need to nurture this young talent, show them the opportunities available here in our world-class universities and encourage them to be a part of Ireland’s bright future. I would like to congratulate our winners who have done exceptionally well to succeed against such worthy competitors and I hope that everyone who participated in this year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will continue to innovate and create new ideas. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the many teachers and parents who play a very important role by encouraging the students to get involved and supporting them on their journey.”
In all, 1,165 students from 32 counties covering 550 projects from 210 schools nationwide competed for the coveted title. Almost 120 category and special awards were also presented.
As well as the projects on display, the exhibition also featured science and technology exhibits, interactive education and live shows including World of Robots, The Science Museum ‘SuperCool’ Show, 3D Theatre – 50 years of space exploration and TITAN The Robot. World-renowned coding club Coder Dojo hosted workshops teaching creative problem solving skills and practical creative skills to students.
Colonel Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut made famous by his interstellar rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, also made a special appearance at the exhibition to sign copies of his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.
Over 200 BT people volunteered at the event.
Pictured above: from left Colonel Chris Hadfield, Paul Clarke, Colm O’Neill, CEO, BT Ireland.