2014 BT Young Scientist winner will be Silicon Valley-bound

23 Sep 2013

Eibhlin McCarthy from Loreto College Balbriggan; Colm O'Neill, CEO, BT Ireland; and Katie Phelan, also from Loreto College Balbriggan, in the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

Students from around the island of Ireland have another week to submit their entries to be in with a chance of showing off their innovations at the 2014 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition next January. And to mark 50th anniversary of the contest, BT Ireland has added a new flavour – the winner(s) will get to travel to Silicon Valery to mingle with some of the biggest names in tech.

Both primary and secondary-school students can enter the competition, but the overall prize in the STEM contest always goes to an individual or group of students who are  at second level.

Getting to experience California and Silicon Valley

For the upcoming exhibition, BT has added the Silicon Valley trip for the winner(s).

Why? The company, which has been sponsoring the exhibition for 12 years now, wants to build on the positive momentum of the recent Leaving Cert results and CAO choices, which showed a rise in the number of students applying for a third-level placement in a science, technology, medical or engineering discipline.

So, as well as the usual prize fund, the overall winner(s) of the 2014 exhibition will get to fly to Silicon Valley in California. While there, they will have the opportunity to meet BT’s innovation team, and be taken on a hosted tour of tech enterprises and business leaders based in Silicon Valley.

The prize fund unboxed

What else will the winner of the Young Scientist contest receive for their efforts to come up with a new science or technological innovation?

They will get the BT Perpetual Trophy, which is also getting an overhaul to mark the 50th anniversary of the contest. The winner will also receive a cheque to the tune of €5,000 and the chance to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.

To further encourage project entries in 2014, BT said it will continue to offer a helping hand to students from across the country through the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition Grant Scheme.

To date, BT has provided more than €400,000 in financial aid, dedicated to travel and accommodation, to help students compete in the contest.

BT has administered more than €411,000 in financial aid via 984 grants to more than 330 schools across Ireland.

Last year’s winners

Cork students Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, the overall winners of the 2013 BT Young Scientist and Technologists of the yea

Cork students Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, the overall winners of the 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

Ciara Judge, from Kinsale Community School in Cork, was one of the overall winners at the 2013 exhibition.

She said this grant scheme was a real help in getting her school to the competition.

“I had so much fun at the event and felt privileged to meet some of the most intelligent, impressive and influential people from science and technology.  

“My group was absolutely thrilled to win the overall prize and we made so many friends during the week at the RDS (in Dublin). I would highly recommend students to submit their ideas now and enjoy the amazing experience of being part of this exhibition,” added Judge.

Schools that are based more that 70km from the RDS are eligible to apply for a grant of €150 per individual entry or €300 for a group entry, up to a maximum of €1,500 per school.

While BT Ireland organises the contest, the exhibition also gets support from the likes of the Department of Education and Skills, Analog Devices, Elan, Intel and RTÉ.

The exhibition itself will again be in the RDS, from 8-11 January 2014. Students who want to enter the 2014 contest have until 2 October to submit their proposed exhibits.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic