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Winners' adventures

Here some stories of past winners of the contest and what they did next.

Amino acids in cosmic dust

Photo of Alexander Munshi Mørch This was my project title for [the Danish] Young Scientists 2013 where I won the senior category! Now I’m at the headquarters of the European Space Agency, ESA. The trip exceeds even my wildest dreams!

In short, my project is all about how life might have arisen. I have studied some amino acids in cosmic dust and based on these studies come up with an idea of how life in space might have occurred and therefore where you and I came from too.

The project took me first to the Young Scientists finals in 2013 and then on to win a prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, EUCYS. Here, the researchers were impressed by my project and chose to award me a trip to the European Space Agency, ESA.

So this is where I am now.

Security is paramount, so I can’t show you fantastic pictures, but I can talk about my experiences and future research in the field; it was 'a dream come true'.

I was first invited to individual discussions with the leading scientists behind ESA's largest and most expensive projects such as ExoMars, CHEOPS, Euclid, PLATO and others. I was allocated approximately 20 minutes per person so it ended up taking at least an hour in total.

So many people are involved in each ESA project that coordination seems an almost impossible task - and yet things go (mostly) like clockwork. I've got a tour through ESTECs many facilities - Battery Test Lab, Propulsion Lab, Flight Model Test Floor, Mars Landscape - and it’s hard to describe how high-tech their equipment is! You have to see it for yourself!

ESTECs security is so strict that even the most permanent employees never have access to facilities that are not part of their work. So on the rare occasion when there is a complete tour, it is very interesting for everyone to look at the machinery. We were one of those few lucky people and, as we gathered staff and researchers along the way, our group ended up six times as big as when we started!

ESA is a high priority of the European community, I have learned. The research, development and planning are considered to be fundamentally important. Many of the employees have an official diplomatic status and the facilities are, politically, in line with the embassies. It's so cool that research has such a high priority in a socio-political context!

I'm a fan! Noordwijk, Netherlands - over and out!

Alexander Mørch

Original in Danish

EU young scientist competition and Jugend Forscht winners visit the JRC

Edvinas Misiukevičius is only 20 years old but he has already created a new variety of plant, a daylily – Hemerocallis "Mitsu". He is from the city of Kaunas in Lithuania and he is one of the six awardees of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), who were hosted by the JRC in Ispra over the past week.

Read more on the JRC web site

2012 EUCYS winner Adam Heinrich (CZ) reports on his trip to Munich

After winning the European Patent Office's Prize for Originality at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) for my project Visually Programmable Mobile Controller for Personal Automation, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Munich in the summer of 2013 together with Sevcan Altundal and Adem Noktacı from Turkey and Mariana Azevedo dos Santos and brothers Armindo and Ricardo Picão Fernandes from Portugal.

The five-day long visit started in the Deutsches Museum, which is the world's largest science and technology museum. I really liked the interactivity of their exhibitions: we were able to walk into a model of a human cell or inside a famous Junkers Ju52 airplane. The most interesting part for me was an exhibition about the history of computing (as I study cybernetics and robotics) and experiments in the nanotechnology section.

Germany, and especially Munich, has a strong focus on technology. I enjoyed the visit to Elcomax, a young company developing fuel cell energy systems. Two researchers explained their technology and the brief history of their business. Afterwards, we visited another technology company – a much bigger one – at BMW World. Their exhibition centre showed the latest trends in the car industry. It would be great if there were more electric cars!

Munich is home to more than just technology, but also great history and culture. On a walking tour in hot July sunshine we saw many highlights in the centre of Bavaria’s capital. I was impressed how
many buildings in Munich had been repaired or rebuilt after World War II. But I was shocked to learn that the hills around the 1972 Olympic Park were made from the rubble of bombed buildings. In the Lenbachhaus modern art gallery we enjoyed many forms of contemporary art. The gallery's building itself is interesting as it combines classical with modern architecture.

The main part of our visit was of course the European Patent Office (EPO) itself. We were introduced to intellectual property protection (especially patents) and to the history and role of the EPO. Later we attended a day long workshop about the patent application process and how to use the patent information databases. I was astonished that the databases even covered old applications from the 19th century. The course length was not enough to start our own patent consultancy business, but I found it very useful for academic purposes. It will also be useful in our professional career, especially for those involved in research or development.

I spent five exciting days with kind people from the EPO and five other students which offered me more time to speak together than we had had at EUCYS. It was my first time in Munich and I really enjoyed the visit. Many thanks for making this possible!

Timm Piper from Germany, winner of the EFDA prize at EUCYS 2012

Timm won a week at JET as his prize for his project entitled "New Insights into the Microcosm"

Watch the video

Read the story on the EFDA website

Azza Faiad from Egypt, winner of the EFDA prize at EUCYS 2011

Making use of rubbish wins Azza a prize
The quest for fusion relies on brilliant young minds to fuel the next generation of discoveries, which is one of the reasons why EFDA is a proud member of EIROforum. One brilliant young mind to benefit from EFDA's support is Azza Faiad, from Egypt, who at 16 years of age won a prize at the 2011 European Union Contest for Young Scientists. Morten Lennholm from JET joined the competition to speak to the promising young researchers and to deliver a talk about fusion.

Azza's project explored methods for converting waste plastic into usable fuel sources. The jury in Helsinki were so impressed that they awarded her the EFDA prize: a week's placement at the JET facility in Culham, UK.

Watch the video

Read the story on the EFDA website

photo of a contestant

photo of a contestant

photo of a contestant

photo of a contestant

photo of a contestant