DCU students scoop ESB prize for engineering net-zero energy storage

11 Nov 2021

From left: Cillian Byrnes, Odhrán Lang, Denis Kelly, Oisín Ruane, Aodhán O'Donoghue and Dr Brian Corcoran. Image: ESB

The four DCU students will proceed to represent Ireland at the ENGCOMM 2022 competition, which is being held online from Montreal in February.

A team of Dublin City University (DCU) students is set to represent Ireland at the international engineering and commerce competition, ENGCOMM 2022 after their team won this year’s ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge.

This year’s Inter-Colleges Challenge took place online for the second year in a row. Participants were tested across a range of engineering, financial, marketing and team-working skills. In total, 32 students participated. They were challenged to design an energy storage solution to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions, using the town of Athlone as a proof-of-concept location.

The challenge constrained the students’ choices by excluding batteries and hydrogen. The DCU team had to contend with stiff competition from runners-up Munster Technological University and University of Limerick in the final to emerge in first place.

The DCU team comprised Mayo men Oisín Ruane, Aodhán O’Donoghue and Cillian Byrnes and Dubliner Odhrán Lang, who will now compete against other universities around the world at the final in Montreal in February. The 2022 final will be streamed virtually from the Canadian city due to Covid-19 safety regulations.

They were coached by Dr Brian Corcoran of DCU’s head of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Corcoran has coached several of the university’s teams in previous ESB Inter-Colleges Challenges with this being the first time for one of them to take the top prize.

University College Dublin won the Best Innovation Award and Maynooth University took home the Best Commercial Solution (Marketing and Finance) at the event, which was held over two days last week.

The winning DCU team was presented with the McLaughlin trophy today (11 November). The trophy is inspired by a visionary young Irish graduate of UCD and NUIG, Dr Thomas McLaughlin, and his work on the Shannon Scheme.

The Inter-Colleges Challenge has been hosted by ESB since 2014 as part of the company’s initiative to encourage a dialogue between commerce and engineering. Teams are typically made up of engineering and commerce students.

Following this year’s final, Denis O’Leary, ESB’s executive director, engineering and major projects, said: “The quality of the work undertaken by each of the teams in the competition really demonstrates their ability to think critically and creatively about the challenges facing Ireland and the energy sector in the transition to a low carbon future. Each team worked incredibly well together this year as our event again took place online due to Covid-19.

“I was hugely impressed by the novel solutions to the implementation of large-scale energy storage that each team pitched to the expert panel,” he added.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic