Students from Crescent College Comprehensive were announced as the winners at the final of the pilot CanSat competition which took place on December 20th in the University of Limerick. A ‘Can Sat’ is a simulation of a real satellite that’s designed to fit into a soft drink can. The winning students have spent months under the guidance of their teacher Ann O’Dea and mentors from the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering and NCE-MSTL, designing, building and testing their CanSat leading up to the UL final.
The team of 6th Year students soared ahead of rival teams from Laurel Hill and Castletroy College, and will now represent Ireland at the European CanSat competition taking place on the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway in April 2012. The winning team, made up of Eimear O’Sullivan, Gavin Randles, James Ryan and Gearoid Moore, will be sponsored on their journey by Analog Devices and ESERO Ireland, the European Space Education Resource Office, co-funded by the European Space Agency and Discover Science and Engineering.
Participating students had to design a CanSat with all the component parts of a satellite, including power, sensors and a communications system, squeezing them into the miniature frame. The winning team will have their CanSat launched to an altitude of approximately 1km by a rocket at the European final in Andoya Rocket Range in Norway in April 2012. The teams carried out tests to simulate the descent of a CanSat after ejection from a rocket. These tests served to evaluate the performance of the CanSat recovery or parachute system, a crucial element of the CanSat mission. All teams demonstrated that their design would ensure a safe landing of the CanSat.
Dr Barry Fitzgerald, Projects Officer in Physical Sciences at NCE-MSTL in UL and co-ordinator of the National Competition said “Today’s final is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication shown by the three teams. It is clear to see from the standard of projects on display that all involved fully embraced the CanSat challenge, displaying the virtues of teamwork and no little amount of scientific ingenuity. It is credit to their teachers as well who have provided the guidance and advice required in bringing the teams to their current levels. I congratulate all three teams in taking part and I am sure that the team from Crescent College Comprehensive will go on to represent Ireland with great distinction at the European CanSat final in Norway next year.”
Brian O’Mara, Engineering Manager at Analog Devices said “As part of the judging panel here today I have been fortunate to see up close the amount of effort that the students from the three schools have put into their CanSats. It bodes well for the future of science and engineering professions in Ireland that students are being introduced to competitions like CanSat at this stage, and the evidence would suggest it is having an impact on their future career choices. Companies like Analog Devices are always on the lookout for talented graduates with a passion for science and technology and competitions like this will ensure that the numbers entering this category continue to grow.”
Ann Fitzpatrick, ESERO Ireland Manager, said “The purpose of the CanSat competition is to open up the possibilities of space and exploration to secondary school students and being at today’s final in UL proves they have taken on the challenge wholeheartedly. I was at the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway in 2010 when the last European CanSat competition was run and it is a truly fantastic opportunity for the winners of this Limerick pilot programme to represent Ireland again next year. ESERO Ireland’s ambition, with the assistance of the European Space Agency, is to establish a network of regional CanSat competitions across Ireland that tie in with third level institutions and today’s final in UL is a great step towards realising this goal.”
The pilot CanSat competition, held only amongst Limerick secondary schools, follows on from the success of the Laurel Hill team which won the Silver Award in the first European CanSat competition held in 2010. It took place in co-operation with the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering in UL, Analog Devices and has been co-ordinated by the NCE-MSTL (National centre for Excellence in Maths and Science Teaching and Learning). The teams made a short presentation on their projects and outlined the results of their primary mission after trialling their CanSats at a test-day event also held in UL on December 17th.