BT Ireland expects 40,000 to attend Young Scientist expo

Chief executive Colm O’Neill pleased with presentations and crowds


The organisers of the BT Young Scientist Exhibition focus mainly on two areas: the standard of the exhibits and the number of people coming through the doors.

This year “the quality of the exhibits would seem to be very, very high across the board”, says BT Ireland chief executive Colm O’Neill. “Certainly the projects I’ve seen are of a very high quality and the feedback from the judges would be that they’re very pleased with what they’ve seen.

“In terms of people through the door we won’t know until this evening … but certainly it’s extremely busy.” Last year organisers were surprised by the large crowds coming to see event so this year they’ve taken measures to marshal the crowds and make for a more comfortable atmosphere.

“We’ve put a lot of new processes and some CCTV technology in place to help us manage crowds a lot better and we think that’s been very successful,” O’Neill adds.

“We would expect in excess of 40,000 people through the door in the three days, which is remarkable on a number of levels—that that number of people would come to see a youth science exhibition but also, when you consider the capacity of the RDS, it means that we’re turning the crowd over roughly three times a day which is quite a turnover of the crowd at an exhibition like this.”

The judges who have been assessing the 550 projects on display in the RDS this will soon have an idea of the front runners for the main award. “By the end of today the judges will have a view as to who the potential candidates for the top prizes would be”, says O’Neill. BT organises as well as sponsors the contest so O’Neill would be well acquainted with the process.

The third round of judging is taking place this afternoon. In the first couple of rounds two different judges visit each exhibit; their scores are later compared and any discrepancies are addressed. A third judge then confirms the score.

Following that they will select the category winners and runners up. Tomorrow the overall prizes will be decided for each of the different categories and from those a main winner will be chosen.

“Quite a lot of debate and discussion goes on between the judges as they advocate for projects that they believe to be strong projects and ones that should be considered,” O’Neill says.

It’s all taken quite seriously. Lots of checking goes on with judges calling universities to confer with experts and professors. “It’s reasonably regular that during [FRIDAY]there are various points of science being verified right across the world.”