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Winners of the 16th European Union Contest for Young Scientists

Students from Austria, Denmark and Germany rewarded

Dublin, 29 September 2004

Projects on microphone manufacturing, synthesis of anti-depressants, and an ultrasonic detector for gas chromatography won the three first prizes at the 16th European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Dublin today. The winners come from Austria, Denmark and Germany, and contestants from several other countries (Turkey, Poland and Lithuania) won second and third prizes in areas as diverse as computing, biology, environment, mathematics and physics. (See Annex for details of all prize-winners.)

‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ or ‘one hundred thousand welcomes’ was the reception some 100 young participants (and many more visitors) to the 16th European Union Contest for Young Scientists received in Dublin, which has been hosting the contest this week. From 25-29 September 2004, some of Europe's most promising young scientific talent competed for nine prizes worth a total of €28 500, which were awarded by Achilleas Mitsos, Director-General of Research at the European Commission in a ceremony hosted today by Mary Harney, Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in St Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. The winners were chosen by an international jury of 15 experts1.

The contestants, with ages ranging from 15 to 20, and representing 34 countries across Europe - as well as China and the USA - presented 73 winning projects from national competitions covering a wide range of scientific disciplines1. They also had the chance to meet Nobel laureates Sir Harry Kroto and Professor Erwin Neher, ensuring that just participating in the European Competition was an experience to be remembered for years to come. For the winners of the various awards, it may also prove to be an important springboard for future scientific careers.

Part of the EU's Science and Society programme, the aim of this annual event is to encourage young people to pursue their interest in science and embark on scientific careers.

The 73 competing projects covered a wide range of scientific disciplines – from engineering and the environment to medicine, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, mathematics and the social sciences. The standard of entrants is always high and several past projects have led to scientific breakthroughs or the setting up of new businesses (see contest press centre1 for some examples). Only projects that have won a top prize at a national young scientist competition can participate in the EU Contest. Thus the Contest represents a real scientific challenge for more than 30,000 young scientists who compete annually in their national contests.

In her welcome message to contestants, Mary Harney points out, ‘This competition will highlight and promote the opportunities that science can offer to young people and also ensure a greater public appreciation of science and of the role it plays in every aspect of our daily lives… International competitiveness is becoming increasingly dependent on scientific and technological skills and the young people competing in the 16th European Union Contest for Young Scientists are the next generation of entrepreneurs – I am confident that the future will be safe in their hands.’

1: Details of the jury, projects and other background information are available in the contest press centre: http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/code/press-centre_en.htm

Further information

Further information about the EU Young Scientists Contest and downloadable, high-resolution photographs of the event can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/code/press-centre_en.htm

You can also contact:
Stephen P. Gosden, Directorate-General for Research, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.2960079, Fax: +32.2.2958220, E-mail: stephen.gosden @ cec.eu.int

For audiovisual media. A 26-minute documentary about the contest (free of rights for broadcasting) is being produced. To obtain a free copy, please contact Gérald Alary, DDB Focus-Europe - working under contract to the European Commission for this event.
Tel: +32.2.7612029, Fax: +32.2.7611906, E-mail: Gerald.alary @ ddb.be

Annex

16th European Contest for Young Scientists

The Prizes

The contestants compete on the basis of their work and interviews with the Jury for nine 'core' prizes. In addition to this, a limited number of honorary and special prizes are also awarded to the contestants where, in the judgement of the jury, they would benefit from the specific experiences that these prizes offer. The core prizes are:

  • Three First Prizes worth €5000 each
  • hree Second Prizes worth €3000 each
  • Three Third Prizes worth €1500 each

Honorary prizes include all-expenses-paid trips to: the London International Youth Science Forum and the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar. There are also seven special donated prizes including a five-day visit of a technical and cultural nature to the European Patent Office in Munich, and one-week stays at the following members of EIROforum2 : CERN: The European Laboratory for Particle Physics, EFDA: The European Fusion Development Agreement, EMBL: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, ESRF: The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, ESA: The European Space Agency, ESO: The European Southern Observatory, ILL: The Institut Laue-Langevin.

For details of the winners of the special donated prizes see the contest web site: http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/code/press-centre_en.htm

2: EIROforum is a collaboration between European intergovernmental research organisations. As world leaders within their respective fields of science, the member organisations of the EIROforum constitute the vanguard of European science, enabling European scientists to engage in truly cutting-edge research and be competitive on a global scale.

Prize-winners

FIRST PRIZES (€5 000 per project)

Country: Austria
Contestant: Martin Knöbel
Age: 20
City/Region: Neunkirchen
Hobbies: Dancing, skiing, mountain biking
Career: Bionics/space technology/medical technology
School: HTBLuVA Mödling Secondary College

Contestant: Gerhard Schöny
Age: 19
City/Region: Breitenfurt
Hobbies: Saxophone, all kinds of sports
Career: Medical technology/Automation technology
School: HTBLuVA Mödling Secondary College

Contestant: Florian Grössbacher
Age: 19
City/Region: Baden bei Wien
Hobbies: Snowboarding, soccer
Career: Automation technology/optical characteristics
School: HTBLuVA Mödling Secondary College
Field: Engineering
Project title: A break-through in the manufacturing of condenser microphones
  They developed and manufactured the first automated self-tuning device for condenser microphone-membranes. Normally microphone diaphragms are adjusted by hand leading to a wide scatter of vibrations (the eigen frequency). The newly developed device is able to adjust diaphragms automatically and very accurately, avoiding such vibrations and this in turn reduces production time and lowers production costs. 

 

Country: Denmark
Contestant: Charlotte Strandkvist
Age: 18
City/Region: Svendborg
Hobbies: Karate
Career: Chemical Engineer/Professor in Chemistry
School: Svendborg College
Field: Chemistry
Project title: Improving the method for synthesizing N-methyl fluoxetine in the laboratory.
  This project combines theoretical observations with experimental work to improve an original method of synthesizing an antidepressant drug. The project hopes to help students realise that the work in the laboratory has a very real effect on people’s lives outside the laboratory.

 

Country: Germany
Contestant: Mario Chemnitz
Age: 17
City/Region: Zschornewitz
Hobbies: Drawing, reading, programming, researching
Career: Computer Scientist, Physical Scientist
School: Paul Gerhardt High School in Gräfenhainichen
Field: Physics
Project title: An ultrasonic detector for gas chromatography
  A traditional gas chromatograph analyses gas mixtures and their components. These are expensive so this contestant developed a cheap but very sensitive ultrasonic detector based on the relationship between sound velocity and the molecular mass of a gas. The analyses can be done using a PC software package.

SECOND PRIZES (€3 000 per project)

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Poland Marcel Kolodziejczyk 19 Mathematics A counterfeit coin
Germany Roland Bauerschmidt 20 Computer Internet access for guests
Turkey Mehmet Halit Calayir 19 Physics Construction of a seismograph
Mehmet Çakan 19

THIRD PRIZES (€1 500 per project)

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Turkey Okan Sankur 18 Computer N-gram based language classification
Poland Artur Lewandowski 20 Biology Ants learning process
Lithuania Laurynas Pliuškys 17 Environment An analysis of the water in the lakes of Trakai and a new biosensor for the determination of heavy metals

HONORARY AWARDS

Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar 2004
to attend the 2004 Nobel Prize ceremonies, meet the Nobel Laureates and take part in a series of other scientific/cultural activities during the week.

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Denmark Charlotte Strandkvist 18 Chemistry Improving the method for synthesizing N-methyl fluoxetine in the laboratory
Turkey Mehmet Halit Calayir 19 Physics Construction of a seismograph
Mehmet Cakan 19

London International Youth Science Forum 2005
to meet young scientists from around the world and take part in the annual two-week intensive summer science festival during July-August 2005.

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Austria Martin Knöbel 20 Engineering A break-through in the manufacturing of condenser microphones
Gerhard Schöny 19
Florian Grössbacher


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