independent

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Head of BT Young Scientist says Wexford has one of the lowest entry rates for competition

Mari Cahalane, at the helm of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition
Mari Cahalane, at the helm of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Sara Gahan

Mari Cahalane's Christmas and New Year are busier than most.

The Ard Lios, Gorey resident is Head of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and as a result only enjoys a two-day festive break in the lead-up to this most popular of national competitions.

Mari, who has been heading up the event for 10 years, said it is such a pity Wexford has one of the lowest entry rates for the competition.

'I don't see why as there are plenty of opportunities for students in Wexford,' said Mari. 'They have Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology on their doorsteps.'

The 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, which opens to the public from Thursday, January 11, features projects from five County Wexford schools.

'Meanscoil Garman have two projects,' said Mari. 'Then the others just have one, which includes FCJ in Bunclody, Loreto Secondary School and St Peter's College in Wexford, and Creagh College in Gorey.'

During the year, Mari spends a great deal of time working from home but in the run-up to the exhibition she commutes daily to Dublin.

'I don't mind the travel,' said Mari. 'I look forward to coming home after a hard day's work as I think Gorey is a great town and nice to live in.'

When Mari first worked for BT in event management, she was based in the UK Headquarters but she returned to Ireland in the late 90s.

She became involved the BT Young Scientist event on her return. She had no experience with science or technology but did have a good track record in organising events.

'Event management is strongly needed when organising something like this'.

'The only thing we do not do is the judging,' added Mari.

Mari said she has been involved with the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition for 18 years, and at the helm for 10 years.

She said the event has been running for 54 years and that the competition has seen a huge increase in both entries and visitors in recent years.

'Eighteen years ago we had 666 projects and about 10,000 visitors,' said Mari. 'Last year we had more than 2,000 projects and over 65,000 visitors.'

She said the event now commands major interest nationally. 'The whole country gets behind it, even if people do not go to the event, they tune into RTÉ to see who the winner is'.

For the Christmas holidays Mari travelled to West Cork for a big family reunion and a two-day break. She said once the event is over in January they look at what can be done to improve it for the following year.

'It is a continuous cycle,' said Mari.

• The 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition takes place at the RDS in Dublin from January 11 to 13.

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