CHILDREN have a natural curosity about how things work and Andrew Conlon, overall winner of the Fresh Start competition, aims to help them tap into that curosity and learn more about science, maths, engineering and technology with his educational robot kit E-Bot.
A delighted Andrew, who grew up on Dundalk's Avenue Road and attended De La Salle College, said that winning the award is a huge boost to launching Conlon Robotics.
Having studied applied physics and electronics at Tralee Institute of Technology, Andrew worked for a large multinational computer and semi-conductor company for 19 years.
In that time, he worked on the company's stand at the Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS, displaying a range of robotics which never failed to capture the imagation of the exhibition's young visitors.
Following an accident a home, Andrew temporily lost his sight for nine months, and it was when his vision returned, that he decided to embark on a new of life.
Having lost his job, he enrolled on a business studies course at Blanchardstown Institute of Technology and began developing the idea of developing an affordable robotics kit which young people can assemble.
'I saw the Fresh Start competition in The Argus and thought it would be a good chance to get started,' he said. Having already drawn up a business plan for his college course, he tweaked it for the competition and was thrilled to be picked as the winner.
His E-Bot will cost €150 compared to an xBox which costs €599 and will allow children to gain a greater understanding of how comptuers work in a fun way.
'It can be assembled very easily with just a screw-driver so anyone from six to 96 will be able to assemble it.'
Andrew is designing the robots so that expansion packs can be added on as well as third party software and devices such as the Raspberry Pi, which is a credit card sized computer processor.