Student Tom McCarthy was inspired by attempting to build a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents’ shed as a young teenager to help other young people with big ideas.
He set up Patch in 2018, a programme for future entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists and engineers aged between 16 and 21, which is now accepting applications for this summer.
The selected participants spend six weeks working on their own ambitious project and learn from world-class mentors and speakers.
There are 24 spaces available on this summer’s programme, and young people who are inspired by people like tech entrepreneur brothers John and Patrick Collison, Elon Musk and Marie Curie are being encouraged to apply..
Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr McCarthy (21) from Castlebar, Co Mayo, said the programme brings together young people from around the country “who are excelling in some way in science or technology or who has a real interest in entrepreneurship or doing things differently”.
His love of science goes back to when he was younger, culminating in his bid for nuclear fusion – he was interested in solving problems that were energy related.
He said that he got an awful lot of support with that project.
“I started out with it when I was 13 and finished it when I was 18,” the physics student said.
Meanwhile, he said that he is looking forward to seeing how many applications are received this year. Last year there was a surge in the numbers seeking to embark on it.
“We had eight times as many applications last year as the year before,” Mr McCarthy said.
“It is particularly important to us that is is open to as many people as possible. We have bursaries available to make sure this is financially accessible to everybody.”
Mr McCarthy said that he would encourage any young person who is interested to “go for it”, and make the application.
So far, 36 young people from around Ireland have participated in Patch to date, including three BT Young Scientist winners and students who have received offers to study at MIT and Cambridge.
Participating teams have gone on to receive funding from Enterprise Ireland and multiple teams have won the international Pioneer tournament.
Applications go live today on joinpatch.org. Candidates can apply as an individual, or as part of a team with an idea they’d like to work on over the summer.