Saturday 17 November 2018

Irish school kids on fast track to career success after Formula 1 STEM podium spot

Eddie Jordan and team CJJ AutoVinco
Eddie Jordan and team CJJ AutoVinco
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A group of Irish teenagers have inspired their younger schoolmates by scooping second place at an international STEM competition.

Six schoolkids from St. Brigid’s College in Loughrea Co. Galway claimed their hard-won place on the podium at the Formula 1 in Schools World Finals.

Team CJJ AutoVinco, consisting of Ruth Conway (17), Seán Fahey (17), Sinéad Kennedy (17), Alannah Curley (17), Bhagya Bowatte (17) and Ciaran Connors (17), missed out on the top spot by a small point margin.

The eventual world champions, Horizon from Australia, scored 878.4 against Ireland's 860 points out of a potential 1000 points at the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore last month. 

Flying the flag for Ireland
Flying the flag for Ireland

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics were obviously areas that the students needed to excel in for their project but business acumen, marketing strategy and entrepreneurial talent were also sought after.

First introduced in the UK, the competition is currently operational in over 40 different countries.

For the challenges, the teams (made up of children aged 11-18) are required to create their own Formula 1 team, which involves the design, construction and racing of the fastest miniature car of the future.

According to St. Brigid’s College teacher David Monaghan, most of the students on team CJJ AutoVinco spent more than two and a half years on the project.

Podium placings
Podium placings

"It's all down to them, we just facilitate them, it's the best project competition I have seen of any description for moulding a person to be go into any company and impress executives at any level to hire them in years to come.

"The students get so much opportunity to talk about what they're doing and have done before during and after the competition that it would be very easy to tell if they hadn't put the work in themselves."

The miniature C02 powered cars that are created by these students are capable of reaching speeds of more than 120km/h as they speed down a 20 meter race track.

CJJ AutoVinco's world final car was the second fastest of all the competing teams, beaten to the number one spot by just .01 of a second.

They were nominated for the best engineered car and enterprise awards as well as receiving the top award for sponsorship and marketing.

F1 legend Eddie Jordan, who the children met at the final event, who suitably impressed by their progress.

"As a group of students these guys epitomise everything that is good about Irish people, ultra-professional and meticulous in their approach, competing with the very best in the world and not afraid to be there, but also able to deliver it in a uniquely Irish way with buckets of personality, I can see these guys running another Irish F1 team in years to come," he said.

According to Monaghan, one regret that the students had is that they had to spend much of their remaining time prior to the final event fundraising rather than entirely focusing on the necessary prep that was required.

"Last year, Minister Bruton said that Ireland’s ambition was to be the best country in Europe for STEM subjects by 2026. We did leave other European competitors in our wake but the other global teams had so much funding and support," he said.

"They were so close...If they hadn't been flat out fundraising, they would have been focused on the mountains of preparation they had to do."

CJJ AutoVinco's title partner for 2018 was Irish American businessman and owner of CJJ Motorsport John Campion.

Other members of the Irish business community that helped fund the young team were were Supermac’s, DHL Ireland, 3D Technology Ltd., Avaya, Dawnlough Precision, Logstrup Ireland, Alkermes, ALS Minerals, Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board and Kuala Lumpur based MFE Formwork.

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