Celebrating 50 years, the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition attracts exceptional students and their projects from all over the country, says Conor de Paor

The Young Scientist of the Year for 2014 is Paul Clarke, a fifth-year student from St Paul’s College, in Dublin. His project, “Contributions to cyclic graph theory”, found answers to previously unsolved problems in the area.

This branch of mathematics concerns itself with the properties and uses of graphs.  Graph theory has applications in fields as diverse as biochemistry (analysing DNA) and electrical engineering (communication networks). He received the BT Young Scientist of the Year trophy, a cheque for €5,000 and a chance to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.

This year’s best group was awarded to Eve Casey and Cathy Hynes, both first-year students from Cork. The team looked at the changing attitudes of people towards working with an older workforce due to the increasing retirement age. Stemming directly from their project it seems that while many are in favour of a more elderly workforce, they would not support this happening in their own working environment.

The runner-up individual was Shane Curran, a second year student from Terenure College in Dublin. In 2012 Shane was termed Ireland’s “youngest chief executive” when he launched his cloud-based library catalogue, Libramatic.

The young programmer has applied his skills to another cloud-based project, Chemical.io: The cloud-based lab management solution. The idea is to allow laboratories to keep track of all their chemicals, apparatus and experiments on the cloud. If certain chemicals are found to be running low, Shane’s solution can automatically reorder them for the lab.

The runners-up in the group category were Evan Heneghan, Conor Gillardy and Callum Kyne, transition year students from St Gerald’s College in Mayo. The team designed a wireless gumshield communications device for managers and players. The device uses bone conduction whereby sound travels to the inner ear through the skull. This allows the coach to stay in direct contact with the players from the sidelines.