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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019
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Dublin teenager takes home top prize at BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Adam Kelly (17) won for his project “Optimizing The Simulation Of General Quantum Circuits”.

Adam Kelly from Skerries Community College, Co Dublin
Adam Kelly from Skerries Community College, Co Dublin
Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

THE BT YOUNG Scientist of the year has been won by 17-year old Adam Kelly from Skerries Community College. 

The 5th year student won for his project “Optimizing The Simulation Of General Quantum Circuits”.

The coveted prize was presented to the winner this evening in the BT Arena by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, and Managing Director of BT Ireland, Shay Walsh.

For his efforts, Kelly will receive a prize pot of €7,500, the BTYSTE  trophy, and will represent Ireland at the European Young Scientist competition in Bulgaria in September. 

BT Young Scientist Judge and Chair of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematics Category, Professor Sean Corish said that Kelly’s winning entry focusing on quantum computing “represents a potentially significant advance in computing”.

“Adam developed a tool to select the optimum algorithm for the simulation of particular quantum circuits, which may inform the development of a practical quantum computer, which is still at an early stage. This has implications across many areas, including cybersecurity.

“In addition, he used Open Source code to parallelise quantum simulation on graphical processing units that is significantly quicker than other available simulators and this work has already come to the attention of key industry leaders.

Adam’s contributions are underpinned by a fluency in what is a highly technical and complex field which hugely impressed the judges.

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, said he was pleased to see so many young people tackling important issues, from climate change to health, to technology, ethics and societal change. 

“The entire competition is a credit to everyone involved, and brings to life the old adage of ‘mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’. I hope many people will make the trip to the RDS this weekend to see the exhibition and hear from the students,” McHugh said in a statement. 

15-year-old Yasmin Ryan was presented with the individual runner-up award for her project ‘Discovery of the Ideal Microenvironment for the Differentiation of hiPSCs into Islets of Langerhans’.

The 5th year student at St Andrew’s College, Dublin focused on the generation of special cells called stem cells that can be used to generate pancreatic cells for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes.

A new number of proteins called “growth factors” were studied using specialised databases and were identified as candidates that be utilised to allow for the production of stem cells. Ryan’s observations have profound potential implications for the long-term treatment of diabetes and cell transplantation.

The top group award went to Aoife Morris and Tianha Williams, both aged 16 and transition year students from St Aloysius College Carrigtwohill, Cork.

Their project, ‘Developing an organic solar cell coating solution to mitigate fossil fuels usage by motor vehicles’, develops an organic solar cell which can be used to partially power an electric car. 

The students investigated and characterised different materials for use in the solar cell. Organic solar cells are thinner, more flexible and cheaper than inorganic solar cells. Their use reduces the need for fossil fuels in the automotive industry and addresses the global environment issue of pollution and climate change. 

The group runners-up award was presented to Danila Fedotov and Filip Caric, 6th year students at North Monastery Secondary School, Cork for their project entitled ‘A Wearable Device Which Assists Caretakers by Providing them with the Information on the Well-Being of Their Patients’.

Their project has resulted in the development of a wearable device that monitors the location and status of elderly people with a specific focus on those living with dementia. The prototype is strapped to the upper arm and will communicate with a mobile phone app to allow caregivers to not only constantly monitor the wearers’ well-being, but also to alert in the event of a fall.

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition continues tomorrow and is open to the public from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Tickets are available here.

For a full list of results check out the BTYS website. 

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Adam Daly

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