2017 BT Young Scientist winner flies to Tallinn for EU Young Scientist competition

22 Sep 2017

2017 BTYSTE winner, Shane Curran. Image: Fennell Photography

Shane Curran flies out today to Estonian capital, Tallinn, to represent Ireland at the EU Young Scientist competition.

Dubliner Shane Curran won this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) for his cybersecurity project, qCrypt.

The European Union Contest for Young Scientists is due to be held here in Ireland in 2018, marking three decades since the beginning of the competition. The country last hosted the contest back in 2004. Irish competitors have experienced record success, emerging as overall winners in 14 out of the last 28 years.

An impressive BT Young Scientist winner

Curran hopes to add his name onto the list with his data storage system, qCrypt. He made a name for himself as a Linux prodigy at the tender age of 11, and he can now program in multiple languages including Java, Python, Ruby and C++.

His qCrypt project is described as a “quantum-secure, encrypted, data storage solution”, and it will be one of more than 80 from 40 countries vying for victory at this year’s event. The project aims to tackle the huge leap in power that quantum computing will bring along with it, creating a data storage solution that is impervious to its strength and capabilities.

It splits up the data in a process called ‘sharding’ and stores it in multiple locations (multi-jurisdictional), preventing the data from being pieced back together, even if demanded by law.

Encrypting sensitive data

According to the International Business Times, Curran got the idea from hearing about Boston College being forced to release political interviews from former members of the IRA. He said it took around six months of research and a further five to build qCrypt.

In a world where post-quantum cryptography is only going to become more sought-after, Curran’s endeavours left judges at the BTYSTE impressed at his ingenuity. Here’s hoping the judges of the EU competition feel the same way.

The contest will take place from 22 to 27 September, and the competition looks to be fierce, with projects exploring short-term memory, multi-pathway therapy in cancer treatment and improving glucose monitoring for those with diabetes. There’s a live stream available for those interested in keeping abreast of young innovation.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects