Undergraduate Awards seek out the world’s brightest students

2 Apr 2012

(From left) Students Grainne Pollak and Martha McGregor; Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, TD; and students Matt Smyth and Richard Shaffrey at the launch of the 2012 Undergraduate Awards. Image by Maxwells

University students from Ireland, the US, the UK and Canada have until 2 July to get their entries in for this year’s Undergraduate Awards programme, which looks set to be a highly interactive affair, as 20 global universities are getting involved, including MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Stanford and University of Cambridge.

In November, the 2012 winners will be ferried from around the world to Ireland for the three-day Undergraduate Awards summit in Dublin where they will get to mingle with other students and share ideas. President of Ireland Michael D Higgins will present the students with their awards.

Their winning papers will then go on to be published in the Undergraduate Journal.  

Google Ireland head John Herlihy said the awards themselves are an important validation for students.

Already, more than 2,300 students have registered their intent for the awards, said co-founder Paddy Cosgrave, who is also behind the Dublin Web Summit.

Cosgrave and Oisin Hanrahan said they set up the Undergraduate Awards back in 2008 as an international academic programme to recognise innovation and critical thinking within coursework at an undergrad level. 

The 2012 programme is open to students in their final or penultimate year of a degree course from every third-level institution on the island of Ireland, as well as 20 top-tier universities across Britain, the US and Canada. These universities encompass Harvard, CalTech, Cambridge, Oxford and MIT.
Corrected coursework that has achieved a high 2.1 grade or above can be entered into the 2012 programme.

Past winners include 23-year-old Trinity College Dublin graduate and cryptologist Michael Clear. Cosgrave said Clear was pulled out of the 2011 Undergraduate Awards ceremony to address the attendees at the October 2011 Founders conference.

Rian Edman, the winner of the 2011 Undergraduate Awards’ engineering and mechanical sciences category, went on to be named the Best European mechanical engineering student at the 2011 European Science Engineering and Technology SET Awards. His work covered the thermodynamic analysis, testing and evaluation of a concept 6 stroke engine.

“This year’s programme has received an overwhelming response,” said UA programme director Louise Hodgson.

She said students from as far afield as Princeton, Yale, McGill and St Andrews have already registered their intent to submit.

Google is a founding partner of the Undergraduate Awards. Herlihy said the awards are an important initiative that help position graduates among their international counterparts.  

“For prospective employers, the Undergraduate Awards provide them with additional independent verification of the quality of the graduate’s coursework.” said Herlihy.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic