Monday 18 December 2017

Shane's software secures Young Scientist of Year award for 2017

BT Young Scientist of the Year Shane Curran, from Terenure College in Dublin. Photos: Gerry Mooney
BT Young Scientist of the Year Shane Curran, from Terenure College in Dublin. Photos: Gerry Mooney

Gavin White

Dublin student Shane Curran was crowned the 2017 BT Young Scientist following another hugely successful year for the exbihition.

The Terenure College pupil (16) won the award for his project, qCrypt, which is a device to protect sensitive data and secrets.

This year's awards again proved a roaring success, with almost 50,000 people visiting the RDS in Dublin.

It was the fourth time Shane had entered the popular competition and he said it was "phenomenal" to win the big prize.

"I'm absolutely delighted, I wasn't expecting it at all so it was a real shock to hear my name called out," he told the Irish Independent.

"In essence, qCrypt is a system for storing secrets. That secret can either be secure forever or until the person who stored the secret has died."

The Dubliner also said that recent events in the US presidential election showed data security was a big issue.

"WhatsApp has done some really cool stuff lately, it's definitely a space that has been getting bigger every year and I suppose recent events in the US lately have triggered that with the DNC hacking," he added.

Shane picked up a prize of €5,000 and he will represent Ireland in the EU contest for young scientists in Estonia later this year.

Runner-up in the top category was Cormac Larkin from Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh in Cork for a project on how to identify huge stars.

The Best Group award went to Michael Sheehan and Jack Murphy from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co Cork, for their investigation into how to protect the endangered hen harrier.

Sligo students Matthew Blakeney and Mark McDermott from Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone finished second in this category.

The award for the best school in the Republic of Ireland was scooped by Coláiste Treasa in Co Cork.

Loreto College in Coleraine claimed the prize for the best school in Northern Ireland.

Education Minister Richard Bruton praised the stellar work of all the students who entered.

"It is wonderful to see so many students entering the world of Stem [science technology engineering maths] through the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition," he said.

"Initiatives such as this have a critical role to play in raising awareness and engagement around science and technology.

"I would like to congratulate every student, teacher and school community involved for their fantastic work this week.

"The exhibition is a highlight for the education calendar every year, and I am delighted that BT will continue to support this event until 2020."

There were 2,091 projects entered this year and 375 schools competed. A total of 1,142 students entered the competition overall.

Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh said the exhibition this year was "fascinating" and the future was in safe hands.

"People have come all the way from Tanzania this year and some of the projects this year will affect people's lives from all over the world," he said.

"The students will be having great craic here but when they go back they will be influencing their peers and the people in their own communities.

"I'm so impressed because it gives you hope when there are so many challenges in the world but there's people here who are going to be working towards the next generation and solving the problems."

Irish Independent

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