July 2nd, 2018 – A weekend of strong competition in the European CanSat Finals ended with the Irish team, Marist College Athlone, emerging victorious. The finals were held at the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) on the island of Santa Maria, Azores. The Marist College team secured their place in the European finals after winning the CanSat Ireland national final earlier this year. CanSat Ireland is an ESERO Ireland competition, co-funded by the European Space Agency and Science Foundation Ireland. It is coordinated and managed by CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory.
“A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite developed in the size and shape of a soda can. A European Space Agency initiative, the competition fosters an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) careers by offering students a hands-on experience of a space-themed project. The multidisciplinary nature of the project ensures students are exposed to industry standards in a broad array of potential career paths.
Marist College’s victory marks the end of an intense series of competitions that began in October 2017 during Space Week. All participants in this year’s competitions have performed admirably, and the standard of scientific literacy on display has been truly impressive. The students were joined by their teacher, Georgina Clear, who was thrilled with her team’s performance: “The lads are absolutely delighted. Everyone here at Marist College is incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved. Even in the height of the competition, the spirit of cooperation and comradery between the teams was inspiring. It really drove home the collaborative nature of these kind of enterprises, and how it can bring people from all backgrounds together. I cannot recommend the CanSat competition enough. Beyond the obvious benefit of teaching STEM skills to students, it has taught our team about project management, teamwork, and outreach. I highly recommend that more schools get involved.”
Congratulating Marist College, Stephanie O’Neill, The ESERO Ireland Manager, Science Foundation Ireland said:
“Marist College’s victory is a testament to the incredible potential of Ireland’s future STEM professionals. These young people have displayed tremendous scientific literacy and work ethic to secure this prestigious victory for Ireland. The students, their teachers, and everyone who supported their journey deserve the highest praise and we offer them our congratulations on this incredible achievement. Through Science Foundation Ireland, ESERO supports and encourages initiatives like CanSat to help ensure that we have an engaged and scientifically informed student body. This result is an affirmation of that vision.”
Alan Giltinan, of CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, is the national coordinator of CanSat Ireland, and is delighted to learn that Ireland have secured a win in the European Finals:
“Congratulations to Marist College on winning the European CanSat Final 2018. It is a testimony to all their hard work and dedication and a fantastic achievement for the students, staff, mentors and everyone involved. At BCO, our vision is to create STEM literate students while developing and coordinating programmes which prepare students for a career in STEM. The CanSat programme brings this vision together by combining many aspects of STEM while incorporating vital career elements such as presentation skills and information interpretation. By winning the European Final, the students have highlighted that Ireland has an up and coming student base well equipped for STEM and SPACE careers, such as the emerging New Space sector, while showcasing Ireland’s emerging workforce as a powerful competitor.
Eighteen teams participated in the European finals this year: the winners of the CanSat national competitions from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Nordic (joint competition Finland-Sweden-Norway), Portugal, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, as well a team from Hungary selected directly by ESA.
Ireland has performed admirably in recent European finals, placing 3rd, and 2nd in 2016 and 2017 respectively, but this year’s victory marks the first time an Irish team has brought home the gold.