Young techie scoops big science prize

11 Jan 2003

For the first time a project from the technology category scooped the Esat BT Young Scientist of the Year Award at Dublin’s RDS on Friday evening. The 39th student to pick up the plaudit was 16-year-old Adnan Osmani, a Leaving Cert student from St Finian’s College, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Only 62 technology entrants were on show compared to 180 for social and behavioural science and 144 for biological and ecological, but they represented some of the most dynamic individual entries, often reflecting the big issues of the ‘grown up’ technology world. Adnan’s project is a case in point and signals a shift in the awards towards IT-based projects.

The judges were unanimous in their decision, many of them spending more than half an hour listening to Adnan explain his ideas. Entitled ‘The graphical, technological and user-friendly advancement of the internet browser: Xweb’, it was the fruition of two years’ work for an IT hobbyist who has been playing around with computers since he was 10 and programming since 12.

Not only did his project attempt to improve ease of use – the user-friendly interface includes an animated character that reads out web pages – it also tackles the thorny issue of download speeds. “The browser incorporates a novel algorithm that can increase the internet access speed fourfold facilitating multifunctional usage,” claims Adnan, who says he patented the technology the day before he received the award. When he finishes his education he hopes to set up his own internet company.

Minister Noel Dempsey TD, accompanied by Tom Byrne from Esat BT, presented Adnan with a cheque for €3,000 and a Waterford Crystal trophy. He will go on to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Budapest in September.

By Ian Campbell