Thank you!

Posted: January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

A tired but exhilarated BT Ireland team has been reflecting on what was certainly the best ever BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. More than 180 of our employees from across the island organised and ran the exhibition this month, and it continues to be one of the undertakings of which we are most proud. We cannot do it alone, and are grateful for those individuals and organisations who help this exhibition thrive – the students, teachers, parents, judges, public, media, and corporate and public sector partners including the Department of Education & Skills in the Republic, Department of Education in the North, Analog Devices, Intel, RTE and Elan.

Within the confines of the RDS in Dublin, much of what is great about Ireland was on display: 550 ideas for a better future from over 1,100 young people; abundant encouragement from teachers and parents; 79 judges from academia and industry dedicated to a professional judging process; and dozens of organisations with outstanding exhibitor stands to engage with the next generation of leaders. And as international delegates from China, Malaysia, Canada, EU and Tanzania flowed in to learn the secrets of its success, we were proud to show what collaboration on a common goal can really achieve.

We would like to congratulate our three winners from Kinsale Community School – Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow, and lastly Ciara Judge who, when asked about their winning attitude, captured the spirit of the exhibition with her response, “Never give up.”

The planning has begun for 2014, so those who’d like to take the trophy home next year, are encouraged to get their thinking caps on.

Colm O’Neill, Chief Executive, BT Ireland

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A beautiful sunny day at Nova UCD, in Dublin, marked the start of this year’s BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp 2012 on the 26th of March.

32 of the finest young minds in Ireland joined six BT mentors to learn about innovation, business development and entrepreneurship.

The students who worked as part of teams took part in classroom-based team building activities which helped them towards their final presentations to a panel of eminent judges at the end of the week.

Six projects out of 18 that qualified have been chosen to present to the judges as part of these teams, these are:
• The design and construction of a multi-touch tabletop computer.
• Smart Pipe: an automated water circulation anti-freezing system.
• Can Irish-grown dessert apples substitute imported dessert apples?
• The development of a low-cost, variable-speed constant PU water pasteuriser: ‘Uisce Paisteartha’.
• Detecting incidents on roads in real time with Twitter and traffic cameras.
• To develop a mathematical learning and communication tool for autistic children in mainstream primary school.

A number of great speakers joined the students throughout the week to help them in their work at the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp but also to help them in their future life and future career.

2006 winner Aisling Judge who is studying chemical and bioprocess engineering at UCD, talked about her experiences as a winner but also talked to the students about CAO, school the college life. On Day 2 the students, mentors and others were privileged to welcome Dame Ellen MacArthur to Nova UCD who talked about the circular economy and about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. While in Dublin she also dropped into RTE to talk to Pat Kenny live on his radio show. Ellen said to the students, “In a rapidly changing world the most important skills available to us are our creativity and imagination” and that “…initiatives like the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp can help unlock that potential.”

Another speaker was former BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition runner-up and company director of Restored Hearing Rhona Togher was a brilliant and insightful presenter, giving the students valuable information about not only commercialising a project but also how to get the funding to do so.

On the final day of the week we welcomed Paddy Cosgrove from Dublin Web Summit and James Whelton of Coder Dojo who told the students that is you have an idea get out there and get people interested in it. Later on the students heard from Greg Treston of Enterprise Ireland who told them about what they do to help companies by way of funding and also expert advice and support.

The content of the Bootcamp was developed jointly by BT and Nova UCD and this meant that we could adapt the programme throughout the week to make sure the students got the most of it. This meant that we could get out doors as much as possible into the sunshine for some of the team exercises! One of the key elements of a programme such as the Business Bootcamp is the mentors. In the three years that we have run the initiative, we have always asked some BT colleagues to take up this these mentoring roles. They spend time with their teams, guiding and leading them on team challenges and activities. Their help and guidance in throughout our time at Nova UCD is vital to the successful running of the event not only from a BT point of view but also for the experience overall for those students that are part of it.

To finish off the four days at Nova UCD, we were delighted to be joined by a fantastic judging panel. Shay Walsh, MD BT Business will be joined by Debbie Hand, FBD, Greg Treston, Enterprise Ireland, Prof Pat Guiry, School of Chemistry, UCD; Dr Ruth Davis, HEA and Emma McNamara from RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland.

The winning team is SmartPipe – made up of five school students who work-shopped the project ‘Smart Pipe: an automated water circulation anti-freezing system’. They were chosen as the best overall group after being evaluated by a panel of expert judges and course mentors, and selected as the team that developed most during the programme. The members of the team are Matt Murtagh White (17) from Kilkenny College, Emer Creedon (16) from Regina Mundi College, Cork; Adam Torrens (19) from South Eastern Regional College, Bangor; Deirdre Harford (17) from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin; and Megan Doyle (16) from Skerries Community College, Dublin.

Daniel Hobbs (17) from Maynooth Post Primary, Co Kildare was recognised as the best individual student during the week.

The winners are awarded a summer placement at one of the leading universities on the island – University of Ulster, University College Dublin, NUI Galway and University of Limerick.

All the students returned home to the four corners of Ireland; we hope to see them back again in January at the 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Oh we are all excited here at BT Towers, as we see the results of our plotting and planning come to fruition. Many of you may not know that BT organises the exhibition from beginning to end – a mammoth task for us here, but one that we’d definitely list as a highlight in our careers.

Each year we endeavour to evolve and enhance the exhibition (a lot of alliteration in that sentence!) – and this isn’t always easy when it has been of such a high standard for the past 47 years. But this year we’ve made a number of changes that we hope you’ll appreciate and enjoy. We are delighted to be joined this year by a number of excellent partners including Analog Devices, Intel, RTE and the Department of Education & Skills and a whole host of other supportive organisations. CoderDojo is coming along, the free computer club movement that is getting wall to wall media coverage these days for providing computer coding classes to young kids. NASA Astronaut Dan Tani is also arriving in (not by shuttle…) to talk to visitors about his amazing career. Other special acts include RobotWars, 3-D Theatre, Little Big Top, and W5!

The MCs always play a big part in the exhibition – opening up the exhibition on Wednesday and announcing the awards on Friday – and not only has the wonderful Aidan Power come on board again this year, we’ve also recruited Roisin Ni Thomain, a TG4 presenter and qualified primary school teacher. Speaking about why she accepted the role of MC, Roisin said, “I’m honored to be chosen this year and feel it’s vital we invest in young minds, especially in the current climate. I have seen the list of entries and I’m bowled over by the innovation and creativity of Ireland’s next wave of scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs!”

Only six more sleeps now till what we believe is the best event of its kind in Europe – come visit and show your support for the students that are finding ways to ‘create tomorrow.’

Priscilla

Priscilla O’Regan, Head of Communications, BT Ireland

Ellen MacArthur inspires our BT Young Scientists & Technologists

As we gear up for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition itself, we invited world-record breaking sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur to share her thoughts on sustainability and innovation with the students, this week (6th December).

Ellen and her foundation (www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org) have developed a “circular economy” model – where products are designed to take a new lease of life when they become worn out, or broken. So rather than just being thrown away, products are designed to become something new. You can watch a short video on what it’s all about here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCRKvDyyHmI

Ellen is dedicated to developing the next generation of business thinkers (as well as working with existing businesses to re-design their products). Last night she hosted a webchat and call for us, where she was joined by more than 75 BT Young Scientists & Technologists.

She took more than 25 questions during the BT Conferencing event. Speaking from her home town of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, Ellen covered topics ranging from sailing a boat made from recycled materials, to the re-design of domestic products. After the call, she told us how impressed she was with the quality of questions from Irish students.

As part of the BT Business of Science & Technology Programme, Ellen will travel to Dublin in March 2012 to lead a workshop and challenge participating pupils to re-think and re-design their ideas.

To listen to the session, just dial +44 (0) 207 136 9233, enter the PIN – 97098652# and then choose option 1.

At last. The qualified projects list is in. I’ve waited months for the evidence to wing it far and wide to show what talent exists in our schools and what an unrivalled outlet the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition provides. Bees, bogs, fertiliser, fiddles, fruit bowls, pigs and pine cones – surely come January, there will be few buildings in the world where in one week so many ideas are unearthed and inventions unveiled?

I’m delighted too that entry numbers to the exhibition continue to grow. 48 years and it has stood the test of time. This contrasts with the US, for example, where an article in the New York Times in December 2010, headlined ‘In Budget Crunch, Science Fairs Struggle to Survive’ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/science/26fair.html highlights that science events there are dwindling due to the challenging economic times we live in. On the island of Ireland, we’ve created an eco-system that helps the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition to go from strength to strength. BT, our partners, students, teachers, judges, parents, exhibitors and visitors, each playing a vital role in supporting ideas generation and recognition. Not long to go now before we are all back in the RDS where you cannot help but be uplifted and inspired.
Priscilla O’Regan – Head of Communications, BT Ireland

Delighted with the news last week that Emer Jones, a past winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, received six A1s and four A2s in her Leaving Certificate. She achieved A1’s in Physics, Biology and Chemistry and an A2 in both Maths and Applied Maths, and has secured a place in the prestigious Cambridge University in the UK where she will study Physics. Emer was just 13 years old when she took home the overall prize for the exhibition in 2008. A student of Presentation School, Tralee, Co Kerry her project entitled ‘Research and Development of Emergency Sandbag Shelters’ examined the use of native materials to enhance the stability of emergency sandbag shelters used in disaster relief.

It wasn’t all good news about the Leaving Certificate results however, as there were disappointing trends in the sciences and maths. Graduates with science and maths fluency are imperative if we are to address the challenges facing our country and build a smart economy. While this year’s Leaving Certificate results shows that some students may have struggled in these areas, we hope that with added support such as bonus points for maths and growing participation levels in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, more students will embrace these subjects to build a strong future for themselves and their country.

BT is committed to playing a part because we need skilled employees, innovation is at our core, and a strong Ireland North and South is good for our future. That is why we announced that we will organise and sponsor the exhibition for another three years, and will invest a minimum of €2 million into making it an even greater success.

I’d like to congratulate Emer on her excellent results, as well as all of the other students who undertook state exams this year. Well done.

Graham
Graham Sutherland, CEO, BT in Ireland

Last week we completed the 2nd year of the BT Business of Science & Technology at Nova UCD. A great event with 31 enthusiastic participants from all over Ireland, 7 great mentors from BT and many entrepreneurs were involved.

The students who worked in groups further development the business developments models for 7 of the projects that won awards at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2011. Five young entrepreneurs were awarded summer placements in two Irish universities following their success at the Programme. The secondary school students underwent an intensive course in commercialisation skills, and displayed a natural flair for business when tasked with creating viable businesses from ideas on pioneering sports equipment, biomass fuel development and a flood barrier for domestic use.

A team comprising of Katie Pierce O’Shea from Coláiste na Sceilge, Co. Kerry, Barry Holland, from Clonakilty Community College, Co. Cork, Kate O’Regan, from Loreto College, St Stephens Green, Dublin and Romy Gerring from Banbridge Academy, Co. Down won the overall group award. The group worked on P-row-tect, a specially designed rowing glove Katie had entered into the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in January. The judging panel was impressed by the marketability and originality of the product and Katie’s identification of a gap not currently filled in the market. The budding young entrepreneur is getting ready to target teams competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

William Clackett also from Banbridge Academy, Co. Down was named best individual for the skills and business acumen he developed over the week of the programme. William’s project was based on research into the affects of loo roll choices on the environment.

Colm O’Neill, Managing Director, Business, BT Ireland, said, “Business executives that worked with the students this week were given a real uplift – these budding entrepreneurs don’t focus on the negatives, they are too busy inventing the solutions. We should look at as many opportunities as possible to give students business skills from an earlier age – whether it means changes to the school curriculum or more one week placements in enterprises across the island, for example.”

Dr Pat Frain, Director, NovaUCD, said “This Programme, devised by BT and delivered by NovaUCD, has challenged the students’ thinking and helped them to understand and work through some of the critical steps required to transform ideas into commercial reality. NovaUCD is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with BT on this important initiative to help develop an entrepreneurial culture amongst second level students in Ireland.”

The third level summer placements are organised and funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and comprise of a one week placement at University of Limerick (UL)/National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).