History - Success stories - Porto 1998

Paul Pak (A)

First prize and ISEF prize alongside with Peter Weilenmann: The Virtual Blindmascane.

"Looking backwards to the Virtual Blindmascane Project I always get a good feeling". That project won him, apart from the EU Contest for Young Scientists, many other awards such as the U19 Prix Arts Electronica Competition in 1998 (computing), the award from the Austrian Society of Information Technology, and the award of the Austrian Board of Trustees for Road Safety.

The project was not patented, though, because there are already many devices using ultrasonic waves for measuring distances, and some specially designed for blind people: "the new features we added to our project could have been patented, but the Austrian patent office told us that it would be very complicated and that we had better concentrate on manufacturing and production". At the moment there is a Swiss blind community testing our prototype right now. We have got some connections with German companies, so the project may be implemented in industry in the future".

From Porto 1998 he recalls the many cultural activities on the program: "there are not only nice memories from the EU Contest but also friends with whom I am still in touch, people from Sweden, England, Hungary, Russia, Spain, etc. The EU Contest provided him with the will to "continue my academic education instead of starting to work" straight away. And he loved Porto: he made a second trip to Portugal "because I enjoyed that country very much". In general, he believes that "the EU Contest completely changed my life and therefore is influencing all my decisions today!"

"The fact of having people from all over Europe in the same place was quite extraordinary for me". But they did not think about winning, they thought about broadening their experience and enjoying these days as much as possible: "I think that we had a very good impression from the Contest because we had fun and, besides, we were also serious when we talked about our scientific work. Probably that is the best formula for success". They were completely exhausted at the end of that intense week, but "we got everything we expected from the EU Competition".

Just after the EU Contest he moved to Wiener Neustadt, a town near Vienna, where he is carrying out his IT studies in a "Fachhochschulen". This is a kind of Higher Education Institute very linked to industry. He has just finished a project called "The Online Farm" with which he has already won a price at the Internet Creativity Award from ALCATEL. Now he is working closely to the Austrian Government in order to develop the idea.

Whenever he finishes his degree, he would love to live and work in a foreign country, always within IT related fields, "where I can use my creativity and my ideas for new projects".

Matthew Thomas (UK)

First Prize and ISEF Travel Award to Pennsylvania alongside with Robert Carney: Yellowing of Alkyd - Based Paints in The Dark.

"It was an amazing time and I will never forget it. I have made so many new friends and have gained so much from it". He was also helping out with the organisation of last Contest in Thessaloniki as an assistant to the Jury. "It gave me an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of the contest, which the rest of the contestants never really knew about. It was a great experience for me, something that I would again love to do in the future. So I have seen both sides of the Contest".

He is working at Avecia LifeScience Molecules (UK).

Arthur Baas - Adrian de Groot - Chris Weel (NL)

They won a Second Prize at Porto 1998, with a project titled "POSEIDON - The wave-motion power generator".
The thing they enjoyed the most was the visit to the World Expo in Lisbon (Portugal): "it was very impressive and the Netherlands's representation was there as well. We were able to see a real wave-motion power generator at work. It was a very different design to ours, though. We had a great time, in general. The only problem we had was the transportation of our three large wooden boxes. We finished building up our stand at the last minute!" - The Second Prize in Porto "strengthened our preference to pursue a technical career".

Right after Porto 1998, they were invited to represent the Netherlands at an ecological international contest in Berlin. They received a third prize from the German Minister of Education, E. Bulmahn: "there was a lot of journalist present, who also made pictures of us. The next day some Dutch businessmen in the plane recognised us from those pictures. We were proud to be a little bit famous. There was even one French talent scout that wrote to us. He wanted us to send over our CVs and asked if we wanted to do some scientific work in France after our graduation".

They have now written a technical article for a German magazine called Junge Wissenschaft (Young Science).
The three members of the POSEIDON team are now in their final examinations, and next year they will very likely join a Technical University. Chris Weel will go to the Technical University Twente in Enschede (East-Holland) in order to study Industrial Design. Arthur Baas has decided to do the same, but he will specialise in Technical Business Management .