Richard O’Shea, an 18-year-old sixth year student from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal in Blarney, Co Cork, has been named the winner of the 2010 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
It is the second time that a Blarney student has won the prestigious competition. In 1999, Sarah Flannery also took top honours and went on to win the overall European young scientist contest. Her younger brother, Eamonn, also a public at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, won the junior individual section in 2006.
Richard won this year’s competition for his project entitled “A biomass-fired cooking stove for developing countries”. The judges praised his scientific knowledge and his engineering skills and were very much taken with the ingenuity of his invention and its likely application in developing countries.
Leonard Hobbs, the chief judge in the technology category, said: “Richard received the prestigious honour for his pioneering work on the design of a biomass-fuelled cooking stove for use in developing countries. Over two billion people in the world depend on stoves to cook their meals every day, and his project built a new one which uses as little fuel as possible and which ideally produces no smoke.
“An added bonus is that his stoves can be built using simple tools such as a Swiss army knife.”
Last night’s announcement was made by Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation & Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan TD, and Chris Clark, chief executive of BT Ireland, at the awards ceremony held at the RDS, Dublin.
Mr Lenihan, accompanied by Chris Clark, presented Richard with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists taking place in Lisbon, Portugal next September.
Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe congratulated Richard, describing the student’s biomass project as “visionary”.
Mr Clark said: “It has been an incredibly successful exhibition and we are delighted that schools from both the Republic and Northern Ireland have won top prizes. We believe Richard’s innovative idea has huge potential to become a commercial success, and we hope the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will prove the catalyst for this.”
Further awards presented included Best Group which went to Paul McKeever and Bryan Murphy, Abbey Christian Brothers, Co Down for their project entitled “Specs Detector.” They receive a prize of €2,400 and a trophy. This project also won the NI award, new in 2010, which was presented to the best overall project from entries throughout Northern Ireland.