INNOVATIVE students from Crescent College Comprehensive have soared to success in a competition piloted by the European Space Agency, and will now represent the country in a major European competition in Norway in April.
The students were announced as the winners at the final of the pilot CanSat competition in the University of Limerick recently.
For six months they worked on building a simulation of a real satellite small enough to fit into a 350ml soft drink can.
Students had to design a CanSat with all the component parts of a satellite, including power, sensors and a communications system, squeezing them into the miniature frame.
The team of sixth year students soared ahead of rival teams from Laurel Hill and Castletroy College, and will now represent Ireland at the European CanSat competition taking place on the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway in April.
The winning team - of Eimear O’Sullivan, Gavin Randles, James Ryan and Gearoid Moore under the guidance of teacher Ann O’Dea and mentors at UL - will have their CanSat launched to an altitude of approximately 1km by a rocket at the European final.
The teams carried out tests to simulate the descent of a CanSat after ejection from a rocket.
These tests served to evaluate the performance of the CanSat recovery or parachute system, a crucial element of the CanSat mission.
All teams demonstrated that their design would ensure a safe landing of the CanSat.
The final selection was based upon a number of key criteria, including the scientific and technical merit of the proposed mission.
Dr Barry Fitzgerald, physical sciences department in UL and co-ordinator of the national competition, said the standard of projects involved “no little amount of scientific ingenuity.”
Brian O’Mara, engineering manager at Analog Devices, said the students’ entries “bodes well for the future of science and engineering professions in Ireland.”
“Companies like Analog Devices are always on the lookout for talented graduates with a passion for science and technology and competitions like this will ensure that the numbers entering this category continue to grow,” said Mr O’Mara.
Ann Fitzpatrick, European Space Education Resource Office Ireland manager, said the purpose of the competition is to “open up the possibilities of space and exploration to secondary school students.”