Did you know? European Union Contest for Young Scientists

EUCYS winners were awarded cash prizes of between €3,000 and €7,000 and will be visiting major European research centres, in recognition of their contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And their achievements are all the more impressive for them all being between the ages of 17 and 20 years old – although pupils as young as 14 can, and do, enter. 

Winning projects ranged from the abstract to the wholly practical, with some even finding immediate commercial applications. But whatever the field, their successes are a testament to the importance of STEM subjects in our schools.

For example, take 19-year-old first-prize-winners Philip Huprich, Manuel Scheipner and Daniel Zindl from Austria. They have developed a production monitoring camera for use in extreme factory conditions where, until now, dust, oil films and high temperatures combine to quickly obscure a lens’s vision. 

And Pavel Litvinka, 17 and from Belarus, has produced a system for producing a three-dimensional image from a flat drawing. Third prize-winner Pavel hopes his “IMPOSSIBLE Box” will be a hit in the design, advertising, film-making and simulation industries. 

Another invention with practical applications – in this case medicine – is Jakub Nagrodzki’s molecular patches therapy (see picture below). The 17-year-old Polish student’s newly synthesised compound allows molecules to enter the nucleus of a cell, in order to treat inherited conditions at a genetic level. 

Irish winners Mark Kelly (18) and Eric Doyle (17), on the other hand, have developed algorithms that simulate how the universe itself may have evolved, while 19-year-old Asbjørn Christian Nordentoft from Denmark has compared analytic and elementary approaches to number theoretical problems and formulated his own proof of a theorem concerning residues and prime numbers

Meanwhile, Nevzet Khasanow, a 20-year-old Swiss, won one of the second prizes by designing a diffusion cloud chamber that will make different forms of ambient radioactivity visible to the naked eye. 

The social sciences are not ignored by the competition – Anna Maria Punab, 20 and from Estonia, took to the podium to win a third prize by studying the relationship between happiness and academic achievement at school.  Since Anna found that there was a direct positive correlation between happiness and scholastic achievement, all the participants in this year’s EUCYS will have a lot to smile about. 

For more information on this tremendous celebration of European excellence in the STEM subjects, please visit eucys2012.eu and ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists. Details for next year’s competition will be published by spring 2013 – so if you think your students have a real talent, watch these spaces.