Puzzle-beating prizewinner

A fifth year student who has contributed to a scientific effort to solve an 80-year-old mathematical puzzle is the 50th BT young scientist of the year.

Paul Clarke, from St Paul’s College Dublin, had already seen his ability to apply computer programming language to certain logistical puzzles win him the Intel Scifest prize in October.

And the BT Young Scientist and Technologist panel was just as taken by his mastery of complex Hamilton cycles, which plot efficient routes for computers and business.

He became the first student from St Paul’s to win the competition in stark contrast to the achievements of Kinsale Community College who followed last year’s outright success by sweeping the boards across the other categories.

Top of the pile were Cathy Hynes and Eve Casey who won best group and, separately, were lauded for their outstanding achievement in the social sciences for studying people’s attitudes to ageing in the workplace. “We’re so pleased,” said Eve. “I nearly started crying I was so happy.”

The school also won three of six age-category prizes. It was also named the best school in the Republic.

Among the first prizes was the best junior individual entrant Aisha Thow, who followed in the footsteps of her sister Sophie who was part of a three-student team that won the overall prize last year. Such was the success of the Kinsale school that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn asked was “Kinsale a real place or a state of mind?”

The awards were celebrate their 50th year and Dr Tony Scott, an original judge, founder and judge again this year, presented a bursary to Laoise Bennett of Hazelwood College, Limerick, in honour of the competition’s co-founder Fr Tom Burke.

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