Dublin teenager Paul Clarke has been named as the winner of the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
Fifth year student Paul Clarke from St Paul’s College, Raheny in Dublin has taken home the top prize for his project entitled, “Contributions to cyclic graph theory”.
The 17-year-old was entered in the senior section of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category.
Paul 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 brand new trophy.
As this year’s winner, Paul will also win a once in a lifetime trip to Silicon Valley in California, home to some of the world’s biggest technology corporations, to meet BT’s Innovation team, and will 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 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, almost 1,165 students from 32 counties covering 550 projects from 210 schools nationwide competed for the coveted title ‘Winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2014’.
Further awards presented tonight included Best Group which went to first year students Cathy Hynes aged 12 and Eve Casey aged 13 from Kinsale Community School, Cork for their project “A study using statistical methods of people’s attitudes to the aging workforce of the future”. The girls were entered in the Social & Behavioural Sciences category at junior level.
The award for individual runner-up went to second year student Shane Curran aged 13 from Terenure College, Dublin for his project “Chemical.io: The cloud based lab management solution”. Shane was entered in the Technology category at junior level.
The award for group runner-up went to fourth year students Conor Gillardy aged 15, Evan Heneghan aged 16 and Calum Kyne also aged 16 from St. Gerald’s College, Mayo with their project “Gumshield communication device for managers and players”. The boys were entered in the Technology category at intermediate level.
The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition continues tomorrow when Commander Chris Hadfield will touch down to sign copies of his book, An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth. Doors are open from 9.30am.