Irish student comes second in European young scientist contest


A Limerick student has claimed one of three second place awards and a €3,000 prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Moscow.

The three top prizes, worth €5,000 each, were taken by students from Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

Patrick Collison (17), from Castletroy College in Limerick, earned the right to attend the annual contest after winning the BT young scientist competition at the RDS last January. He then took his project, a new programming language for use on the web, to the event in Moscow.

Patrick's prize was for the development of a programming language called Croma, a new version of the old Lisp language. He said he began working on it just over a year ago because of frustrations he experienced at first hand in web-development.

He was one of only three young scientists who stepped forward to speak to assembled guests at the awards press conference. He said that in order to attract young people to science careers, "science education has to be fun".

"I obviously speak only for myself, but we hear a lot about making science fun - but I'm not sure they understand that it's not the usual kind of fun," he said.

"It is a curiosity that leads you to want to find out about the world around you and to improve on what was before."

The 2005 European competition, with a prize fund worth €28,500, involved more than 120 young scientists from 35 countries, aged between 16 and 20s. It took place at the Bauman University.

The competition was initiated in 1989 with the aim of attracting young people to careers in science.